The Medial Collateral Ligament otherwise more commonly referred to as the MCL is the ligament found on the inside of the knee. This important ligament of the knee joins the end of the femur (thigh bone) and the top of the tibia (shin bone). It is tightly drawn when the leg is straight thereby preventing the ?opening ? up? of the knee joint.
This Medial Collateral Ligament is very commonly injured while participating in sports such as football and skiing. It often accompanies an ACL (Anterior Cruciate Ligament) injury. When the leg is hit from the outside of the knee joint, the knee tends to twist and buckle thus causing the ligament to over-stretch or tear. The cartilage or meniscus of the knee may also be torn during an MCL injury. Clipping during a football game is an excellent example of how this type of injury may occur.
Minor tears may not be noticed immediately but rather appear anywhere from a few hours to 2 days later. Common symptoms include pain and swelling directly over the ligament. Bruising will often appear 1-2 days after the injury occurs. More serious tears or ruptures of the MCL ligament may also make the knee feel unstable and leave the individual unable or unwilling to walk.
Immediate treatment of the MCL injury include the application of cold or ice packs to the affected area, and elevation of the knee. It is also important to allow the injured knee to rest. Light compression of the knee joint with the use of an elasticized support bandage may also be directed by your care giver.
Very occasionally an individual with an MCL injury will require surgery. More often though, individuals with mild or moderate tearing will wear a hinged knee brace and will be advised to seek physiotherapy treatment.
Gradually increasing the intensity of exercise and being aware of the movement of the knee are key factors in reducing the risk of injury to the knee. Regular exercise and maintaining good physical condition, particularly when participating in sports such as football and skiing are also excellent ways to avoid injury. Avoiding sudden movements such as twisting or overstretching of the joint will help keep the knee stable.