Medial Collateral Ligament Injury
The Medial Collateral Ligament (MCL) is a ligament within the knee that helps to connect your thigh bone (femur) to your shin bone (tibia). It is found at the inner aspect of the knee and acts to control sideways movement. It is one of the most commonly injured knee ligaments. Injury to the ligament is common in various sports, especially AFL, soccer, rugby, netball and basketball. Injury occurs when the knee is forced inwards into an excessive ‘knock knee’ position. The ligament can also be injured as part of a more complex knee injury during high energy trauma.
MCL Injury: Symptoms
Injury to the MCL is usually quite painful. There may be acute swelling of the knee. People who injure their MCL will often struggle to weight bear on the leg after the injury, although this can settle with time. Early after the injury, people notice that their knee feels unsteady or ‘sloppy’ and may give way.
MCL Injury: Diagnosis
MCL injury is usually suspected after a medical consultation, where a clinical history is taken and examination of the knee performed. Diagnosis is concerned with imaging. Often an X-ray of the joint is normal, and the diagnosis is picked up on MRI scanning of the knee which will be able to more accurately diagnose the injury, but importantly exclude injury to other structures within the knee (ACL, multi-ligament knee injury, meniscus injury).
MCL Injury: Treatment
Most isolated MCL injuries will heal with non-surgical treatment. I may recommend you use a hinged knee brace for a period of time, possibly the use of crutches. It’s important to rest, ice and elevate the knee to help treat and prevent excessive swelling.
Surgical treatment of MCL injury may occasionally be recommended for high-grade injuries or when the injury is part of a more complex problem. In these instances, I will explain the exact nature of the surgery and your expected recovery timeframe. In general, full recovery after isolated MCL reconstruction will take 6 months.
If you have injured your MCL, please make an appointment to discuss your treatment options.