ACL and MCL tear are both seriously debilitating knee injuries. These two knee injuries may have similar symptoms. Many people routinely use the terms interchangeably. Taking this into account, there are several significant differences to be aware of.
Thomas & Bigler Knee & Shoulder Institute, led by established board certified orthopedic surgeons Dr. Steven C. Thomas and Dr. Gregory T. Bigler, provides orthopedic surgery to patients in Las Vegas, Nevada as well as greater Pahrump, Bullhead City, Lake Havasu, and Mesquite, NV.
An Overview of ACL and MCL
The ACL and MCL are both knee ligaments. They have a primary function of supporting and stabilizing the knee. ACL is an acronym for the anterior cruciate ligament. This prevents the shinbone from sliding forward while MCL or medial collateral ligament ensures the femur doesn’t slide from side to side.
Knee injury can potentially cause lasting damage to both these ligaments. The most common knee injury involves ACL or MCL tear. Support and stabilization of the knee is compromised when the ligament sustains damage.
Understanding an ACL Tear
ACL tear refers to an anterior cruciate ligament injury, which can cause significant pain and swelling. Torn ACL can result in further injury if not treated in a timely and proper manner. These injuries are common during activities involving jumps and pivots. Football, basketball, and soccer players usually experience ACL tears.
Common symptoms of an ACL tear include:
- Severe swelling in the knee region within 6 hours of injury
- Audible popping sound when the injury occurs
- Pain when turning the injured leg or walking
- Instability in the knee as if it won’t hold your weight
Understanding an MCL Tear
MCL tears are typically the result of a direct blow to the knee. Athletes participating in contact sports are generally vulnerable to knee injuries in this category. MCL can suffer a tear when there is a direct hit to the outer portion of the knee. The symptoms of an ACL and MCL injury are the same.
You will experience significant pain and won’t be able to walk normally. You may experience severe swelling in the first 6 hours of the injury. In addition, you would experience a locking or catching in the knee joint in case of an MCL tear.
Causes of ACL Tears
ACL injuries generally occur when there are sudden or quick changes in direction. Twisting actions that don’t involve moving the feet may cause this injury as well. ACL tear may occur when a person stumbles when landing or slows down abruptly. Gender is a major factor in these injuries. Genes controlling certain proteins in relation to the integrity and structure of ligaments work differently in men and women.
Causes of MCL Tears
MCL injuries generally occur when someone collides into you from the side. It can happen while making quick stops and turns as well. These injuries usually occur in athletes. You may suffer an MCL tear if you fall and the lower leg spreads out. Repeated stress can cause the MCL to become loose by losing its normal elasticity.
Highly resourceful board certified orthopedic surgeons Dr. Thomas and Dr. Bigler receive patients from Las Vegas, Nevada as well as greater Pahrump, Bullhead City, Lake Havasu, and Mesquite, NV for safe and proven orthopedic surgery procedures.
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