Understanding MCL Sprain Treatment

Christopher C. Dodson, MD September 21st, 2015

Whether you are an athlete that sprained your medial collateral ligament (MCL) on the lacrosse field, on a snowy mountain while skiing, or on a tennis court during intense play, your injury may have been sustained from either forceful contact with another player on the outside of the knee or through a twisting motion during play. Non-athletes are susceptible to an MCL injury from missteps or falls when he or she is quickly changing directions and a twisting motion occurs at the knee at the same time that the foot is planted. However the injury happened, now is the time for you to evaluate what MCL sprain treatment options will be right for you.

The medial collateral ligament supports the inner part of the knee as a link between the femur and the tibia. There are four primary ligaments that stabilize the different parts of the knee. Because of the close proximity of the ligaments, sometimes a MCL sprain will be accompanied by other ligament injuries in the knee. In order to find out if the medial collateral ligament was the only ligament damaged, it is mandatory that you visit a doctor for an assessment.

Know Your MCL Sprain Treatment Plan:

Pre-treatment: Doctors at Rothman Orthopaedic Institute will diagnose the severity of the injury with an x-ray or use of an MRI. The injured knee will be compared to your non-injured knee. Based on the grade of injury, you will be provided with a variety of treatment options to pick from. It is common to implement more than one recommended option. Your medical history and lifestyle will be considered to determine an appropriate and realistic plan. Additionally, you will be informed of what sort of participation is expected from you throughout the treatment process. Your first visit to a Rothman Orthopaedic Institute doctor should empower you to approach your treatment plan with the knowledge and resources you need to pursue recovery.
Types of Non-Surgical Treatment: Under the supervised care of Rothman Orthopaedic Institute orthopaedic doctors, you will proceed with treatment based on the severity of the injury:
  • Grade I tears will require icing, resting, and possibly the use of anti-inflammatory medication. Compression and elevating your injury are also valuable methods for recovery. Therapeutic exercises and stretching will assist with the strengthening of the muscles surrounding the ligament. Grade I treatment methods should also be utilized for any Grade II and Grade III sprains.

  • Grade II MCL injuries call for support from a hinged knee brace and crutches for a longer length of time than with a Grade I sprain.

  • Grade III sprains may necessitate a rehabilitation program or physical therapy. A Grade III tear needs constant supervision. If severe tearing occurred or if other ligaments have been affected, an orthopaedic surgeon at Rothman Orthopaedic Institute will advise you on what surgical procedures may be required.

Post-treatment: Because the newly healed ligament is regaining strength, it is important to be aware of activities that may stress or re-injure the medial collateral ligament. It is common to notice minor pain in the recovered ligament for a period of time following the completion of treatment, but not so much that you are debilitated. In order to successfully recover, your doctor should be informed of any significant changes to the ligament and whether any MCL sprain treatment plan needs to be revisited.
For more information on MCL sprain treatment at Rothman Orthopaedic Institute, please contact us today at 1-800-321-9999. For more information, please visit us here or contact us at 1-800-321-9999.

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