What is Medial Collateral Knee Ligament (MCL) Injury?
The medial collateral ligament (MCL) is located on the medial (inner) side of your knee and it connects the top of your tibia (shinbone) to the bottom of your femur (thighbone). It is one of the four major ligaments in your knee that provide stability to your knee joint. Its main function is to resist the movement of tibia or foot outwards in relation to the knee, also known as knee valgus. When this ligament is injured, it is often called an MCL sprain and it could either be an overstretched or torn MCL.
Causes of MCL Injury
The MCL is very susceptible to damage when a great force is applied directly on the outer side of the knee, which stretches or tears the MCL. This can occur when making a sharp change in direction, twisting the knee whilst the foot is fixed, landing wrong from a jump or the most common, a blunt force hit to the knee, such as in rugby tackle. In most cases, incidents needs to happen at high speed to injure the MCL.
MCL Injury Severity and Symptoms
The symptoms and severity of the MCL injury depends on the degree of stretching or tearing of the MCL. It can be graded in 3 levels: Grade 1 (Mild), Grade 2(Moderate) and Grade 3 (Severe).
Grade 1 MCL injury – The least severe MCL injury. Usually indicate slight stretch of the MCL but there is no actual tear. You may not feel too much pain or swelling in your knee joint but this can increase the risk of a repeat injury.
Grade 2 MCL injury – A moderate type of MCL injury where your ligament has been partially torn. This might cause instability in your knee joint and some common symptoms such as knee swelling, bruising and pain while moving the knee.
Grade 3 MCL Injury – The most severe type of MCL injury where the ligament tears completely, resulting in swelling or bleeding under the skin. This will also cause the knee joint to be unstable and you might find it hard to bear any weight. Usually, you might experience some severe pain that subsides quickly or no pain at all as all the pain nerve fibres are torn together with the ligament.
How is an MCL Injury Diagnosed?
On an examination with a physical therapist such as a chiropractor, they will look for signs of ligament injury. The chiropractor might perform some stress test to determine the severity of the injury. A MRI may also be used to diagnose the knee injury and check the surrounding structures for combination injuries.
Treatments for MCL knee Injury
There are numerous treatment options for MCL injury and the type of treatment also depends on the severity of the injury. However, Grade 1 MCL injury might heal on their own after a few weeks or rest.
Immediate treatment’s main goal is to ease the pain and help stabilising your knee. Immediate treatment options include:
-Applying ice to reduce swelling
-Elevating your knee above your heart to help with swelling
-Taking nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) to ease pain and swelling
-Compressing your knee using an elastic bandage or brace
-Using crutches to keep weight off of your injured knee
Rehabilitation is a good way to recover you from your injury by strengthening your knee and prevent further injury. Treatment may include:
-Physical therapy such as chiropractic to strengthen muscles and improve your knee’s range of motion
-Wearing a protective knee brace during physical activity
-Limiting activities that can cause further injury, such as contact sports
In rare cases, an injury to MCL will require surgery. Surgery is needed when the ligament is torn in such way that it can’t repair itself. If the tear is in the middle of the ligament, your surgeon will stitch the ligament together.
Overall, the recommended management for MCL injury is to first applying some immediate treatment to ease the pain or reduce instability in the joint, then, consult a physical therapist like a chiropractor where you will be given exercise and stretching programmes to help strengthening your knee joint.
At Lakeside Laser, in addition to the exercise and stretching programmes mentioned above, we will also provide you with low lover laser therapy with the goal of reducing inflammation and releasing the tension within the muscles surrounding the knee to help with the pain. Low level laser therapy also known as cold laser therapy has been widely used in the treatment of MCL injuries.
Cold Laser Therapy utilises modern technology and a non-invasive technique to target the deep underlying tissues and help rejuvenate the damaged tissues. Being non-invasive and cold, the cold laser therapy or low-level laser therapy doesn’t expose the patient to any risks and is extremely cost-effective. Cold laser therapy is used to treat MCL injuries by reducing the inflammation around the joint and promoting blood, oxygen and nutrients to help repair the injured ligament. The therapy consists of multiple sessions depending on the severity of the injury and generally lasts around 20 minutes with the laser being applied to various different areas around the joint capsule for 3-4 minutes at a time. It’s recommended that the patient seeks multiple treatments of 2-3x per week in order to gain the maximum benefit of the cold laser therapy.
Lakeside Laser is located north to Perth’s city centre and has patients from all over Perth including, Balcatta, Ellenbrook, Yokine, Hilary’s, Alkimos, Wembley Downs and Craigie. We also have HICAPS facilities onsite for most Health insurance Providers to make the expense of your treatment cheaper and are Medibank and BUPA preferred providers. To speak to our team about the benefits of cold laser therapy or to schedule in an appointment to cure your knee pain, you can call us on 93000095or book via our book now tab at www.lakesidelaser.com.au we look forward to hearing from you shortly.
Dr Linda Schiller has over 25 years work experience and has been a practicing chiropractor in the UK and South Africa since 1998, you can now access her chiropractic care in Joondalup, Northern Suburbs Perth, Australia, to get you back on the road to health.