The medial collateral ligament is located on the inside of the knee. It attaches the femur to the fibula and prevents the knee from bending inward. It is one of four ligaments that support and stabilize the knee.
This type of injury usually presents with pain directly over the ligament, swelling, bruising, and possible instability. MCL tears are divided into three grades.
- Grade 1 MCL Tear is an incomplete tear with few symptoms. Rest, ice treatment, and anti-inflammatory medication is recommended. Recovery is about 1-2 weeks.
- Grade 2 MCL Tear is also an incomplete tear but with moderate symptoms. The pain and swelling is worse than a grade 1 MCL tear and the knee feels unstable when turning or pivoting. A hinged knee brace may be recommended for a period of time. It helps to elevate the leg whenever possible to reduce blood flow to the injury. Recovery is about 3-4 weeks.
- Grade 3 MCL Tear is a complete tear of the MCL with significant pain, swelling, and instability. A knee immobilizer is recommended for the first 10 days after injury. This is followed by a hinged knee brace. Right from the beginning the knee needs to be flexed several times a day right. Complete recovery is about 3-4 months. Surgery may be recommended in severe cases, usually if the MCL tear is accompanied by an ACL tear.
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