The medial collateral ligament (MCL) is the ligament that is located on the inner part of the knee joint. It runs from the femur (thighbone) to the top of the tibia (shinbone) and helps in stabilizing the knee. Medial collateral ligament (MCL) injury can result in a stretch, partial tear, or complete tear of the ligament. Anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) may be torn along with a MCL injury.
Patients with an MCL tear have symptoms such as knee pain, swelling, and a sense of instability in the knee. Patients may feel as though their knee may 'give out' suddenly or buckle.
An MCL tear can often be diagnosed by physical exam. To determine looseness of the ligament, an MCL test may be performed by exerting pressure on the outside of your knee while your knee is bent to 30 degrees. In addition, other tests such as knee joint X-rays and MRI scan may be done.
Treatment options include non-surgical and surgical treatment. Non-surgical treatment consists of rest, ice, compression, and elevation (RICE protocol); all assist in controlling pain and swelling. A knee brace may be worn to help protect the MCL while it heals. Physical therapy exercises may be recommended to improve knee motion and strength. Surgery is only occasionally necessary for the treatment of high grade MCL tears.