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Medial Collateral Ligament Injury | Physiotherapy Treatment

What is Medical Collateral Ligament Injury

A medial collateral ligament knee (MCL) injury occurs when the medial collateral ligament, which connects the femur and the shinbone and provides strength to the knee joint is damaged. It is a major ligament that is situated on the back of your knee.

This injury can occur due to shock on the area, physical injury, improper healing from previous injuries, and other reasons such as high pressure and wearing and tearing of the ligaments. It can have implications such as severe pain, reduced mobility, and flexibility in the knee region of the individual.

Here is a quick guide to what the injury entails, the signs, symptoms, and various treatment plans for a medial collateral ligament elbow and knee injury.

Causes of Medial Collateral Ligament Injury

The ligament is prone to injury due to several reasons. The most common way of injury is when a sudden shock is applied to the area, such as physical contact or an accident that can result in the snapping of the ligament due to the stress. Sudden twisting due to pressure can also cause the ligament to tear. Other causes can be landing awkwardly on the feet that apply pressure on the knees, lifting heavy objects, and repeated pressure on the ligament and knees.

People involved in high contact sports, and adventure sports, are more prone to suffer from an MCL injury. People with obesity, lifestyles that include sudden movements, and working in conditions where there is sudden and heavy pressure on the knees are also at risk of a ligament injury.

Symptoms of Medial Collateral Ligament Injury

The symptoms can vary based on the severity of the injury. Some of the medial collateral ligament injury symptoms are

Hearing a popping sound at the knee at the time of the injury, jolting pain in the knee after an impact or sudden movement, tenderness in the knee region, that results in pain when touched.

Some other symptoms are swelling and mild discoloration in the knee region, locking of the knee, and weakness in the knee when trying to move around.

All of these symptoms can also be signifiers of the intensity of the injury and it is best to visit a medical professional at the earliest.

Diagnosis of Medial Collateral Ligament Injury

In most cases, a medical professional will conduct a physical examination, which will inform you if there is a possibility of an MCL injury. This can be followed up with various tests and scans.

A Magnetic Resonance Imaging or MRI can help locate the area of the tear and give information on the intensity of the injury. It can also provide information on the status of the tissues in the region and their impact.

An ultrasound can also help determine the extent of the injury and locate any other injuries that are a compilation of the MCL injury. This will help doctors plan a treatment plan that is more holistic.

X-rays are also an effective way to understand if there is any bone damage and the extent of ligament tears in the region.

Imaging is important to locate the exact location of the injury and also provides data on tissue damage and any other complications.

Treatment for Medial Collateral Ligament Injury

In most cases, MCL injury can be treated with non-surgical procedures. Physiotherapy and other forms can be used as medial collateral ligament injury treatment.

The RICE method (Rest, Ice, Compression, Elevation) is an effective way of treating MCL injury. Resting the knee, applying ice and compression, and keeping the legs elevated can help reduce inflammation, improve circulation of blood and prevent any further damage to the ligament.

Pain relievers and anti-inflammatory drugs can be prescribed by the doctor that can help reduce inflammation and pain in the region. This can gradually help reduce the stress and improve the condition of the knee injury.

Knee braces and crutches are effective ways of immobilization and can help provide rest for the region that will help heal. Rest is important for the ligaments and the joints to heal and temporary immobilization can help largely.

In severe cases, surgical intervention will be needed, where the ligaments are surgically corrected or grafted to the bones, to allow proper healing. This can have a longer recovery process.

Exercises for strengthening muscles, improving mobility and flexibility in the region, and improving strength in the thighs can help in the healing process.

Physiotherapy for Medial Collateral Ligament Injury

Various exercise regimes and physiotherapy can help in the healing process of an MCL injury.

Rest is one of the most prominent ones, where the individual should ensure not to put too much pressure on the knees and allow the ligaments to heal.

Cryotherapy, where ice packs are placed in the region, for about 30 minutes a day, can help reduce swelling and further damage to the tissue.

Compression of gentle nature can also help increase blood flow and reduce swelling of the region

Ultrasound therapy can be used to induce a range of motion and gently stimulate the tissue and nerves.

Balance exercises such as standing against a wall, crane poses, etc can help increase body balance and improve strength in the knees

Strengthening exercises such as knee curls,  heel dig bridges, quad sets, etc can help in slowly increasing the strength in the thighs, knees, and ankle of the individual.

These need to be performed only after consultation with a physiotherapist, after charting out a recovery plan.

A Note of Advice

MCL injuries can be painful and occur when there is a sudden burst of shock on the knee ligaments

  • MCL injuries can be painful and occur when there is a sudden burst of shock on the knee ligaments
  • It is important to follow the RICE method of recovery
  • Physiotherapy can help in the recovery process to a great extent
  • It is important to maintain a mobile lifestyle that strengthens your body.

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