MCL Sprain: Treatment, Causes and Recovery

Rest, ice, compression & elevation (RICE) are commonly recommended as an MCL sprain treatment, helping to reduce pain and inflammation while promoting healing.

MCL Sprain: Treatment, Causes and Recovery
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Pain, edema, and instability in the knee can result from a rupture in the medial collateral ligament in the knee. Physical therapy, ice, and a knee brace are typically used as treatments. Surgery will be required in rare instances.The medial collateral ligament (MCL) joins the lower leg and thigh bones. The lateral collateral ligament (LCL) travels along the outside of the knee, whereas the MCL goes along the inside. These two ligaments work in tandem to stabilize the knee, along with other ligaments.Strengthened connective tissue makes up ligaments. The ligament is stretched during a sprain, and after a�� serious injury, it may become loose. A tear breaks the ligament in half and is more serious damage.Rest, ice, compression, and elevation (RICE) are commonly recommended as an MCL sprain treatment, helping to reduce pain and inflammation while promoting healing.This article will examine what MCL is, its symptoms, its causes, treatment, and the recovery time of the MCL sprain, so please continue reading to know more.

What is MCL?

Medial collateral ligament (MCL)The MCL is a ligament that joins the bone inside the tibia (shinbone) and femur (thighbone). Each knee has an MCL that runs down the inside. Bands of connective tissue called ligaments, including your MCL, link bones, joints, and organs. They must keep everything together and assist you in moving correctly. By preventing valgus stress, the medial collateral ligaments support the stability of your knees. Valgus force is the pressure that pushes your knees inward from the outside. Read Also: Knee Injury: Medial collateral ligament (MCL)

What are the symptoms of MCL?

The inner side of the knee hurts when the MCL is torn. Compared to spraining the ligament, tearing the MCL is more likely to result in significant pain. During the time of the injury, a popping sound could be heard. The MCL tears make the sound.It could take some time before someone notices any swelling in the region. Within a few days of the injury, swelling may extend to other knee joint locations.A person could have knee stiffness and struggle to straighten or bend their leg. They could also find sitting in a chair or climbing stairs difficult because doing so demands knee bending.The MCL's capacity to stabilize the knee might be impacted. It's possible to experience knee instability or looseness in the kneecap.In addition to the MCL, other ligaments may also sustain injury. If a knee is struck hard, the following may be damaged:
  • Outside of the LCL knee.
  • The thigh and lower leg bones are joined at the front of the knee by the anterior cruciate ligament (ACL).
  • These areas of the knee are painful as a result. If a person tears several ligaments, the healing process may take longer.
Also Read: Genu Recurvatum: Knee Deformity

What causes the MCL sprain to tear?

MCL tears can result in abrupt, violent rotation, twisting, and "cutting." An MCL tear can also be brought on by a direct hit to the outside of the knee. The MCL tears are more common in athletes who participate in sports like football, skiing, basketball, volleyball, and other team sports.The following circumstances may result in an MCL tear:
  • Firmly placing one foot on the ground while abruptly changing direction (in sports, this is called "cutting").
  • When a person or thing strikes your knee on the outside, like during a tackle in football.
  • Bending over or lifting large items.
  • Jumping and landing painfully on your knee.
  • The knee is being extended.
Read Also: Synovitis Knee: Inflammation of the Synovial Membrane

What are the treatment options for MCL?

Following are the few treatments available for MCL sprain that may help you in speedy recovery.

Home-based treatments - 

A minor MCL strain may be self-treatment with rest, ice, and other self-care measures. When applying ice to a hurting knee, you must elevate the knee, avoid weighting the injured area, and use a knee protector or elastic bandage to support and compress the lesion.

Compression Wraps or Braces -

While not medications, compression wraps or braces available over the counter can provide support and stability to the injured knee.These devices can help reduce swelling and provide security during activities.

Over-the-counter medicines - 

The doctor could prescribe NSAIDs (nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medicines) such as aspirin, ibuprofen, or naproxen to alleviate pain and swelling. Observe the directions on the packaging. These medications work by inhibiting the production of prostaglandins, which are responsible for causing pain and inflammation.

Topical Analgesics -

Topical analgesics can relieve localized pain, such as creams, gels, or patches containing ingredients like menthol or capsaicin.These products are applied directly to the affected area, numbing the pain receptors or generating a warming or cooling sensation.

Physical therapy - 

When your MCL discomfort starts to subside, you may require physical therapy to rehabilitate the knee if your injury is more serious. To ensure that your knee functions properly, a physical therapist will offer you exercises to build stronger leg muscles surrounding your knee.

Surgery - 

Surgical treatment for MCL sprain is uncommon for people with an MCL injury to require surgery because this ligament may frequently mend with alternative treatments in a few weeks or months. However, if another knee also feels painful, you could require it.Also Read: How To Get Immediate Gout Pain Relief?

How long does an MCL sprain take to recover?

The MCL heals quite fast for a ligament due to its excellent blood supply, especially in the superficial section.For minor MCL sprains, healing takes between 4 and 6 weeks. The healing process for mild to severe MCL injuries takes around 12 weeks.However, as I previously said, an MCL injury can occasionally occur alongside ACL and meniscus damage. The length of rehab in these situations will be greater.Bone bruising is another potential consequence. This may occur if your damage resulted from a quick impact that forced the top and bottom ends of your tibia and femur together. The bruised bone might take two to four months to mend than the ligaments.Therefore, even when the MCL has healed, you might still feel discomfort in your knee's inside region. To find out why your discomfort isn't going away as quickly, it could be helpful to obtain a scan if your recovery is taking longer than planned.Read Also: What Causes Shoulder Pain When Crossing the Arm Over the Chest?

How can you prevent an MCL sprain?

  1. Make your quadriceps stronger. Running, leaping, and stair climbing exert additional strain on the MCL. To preserve this ligament, strong quadriceps muscles absorb part of the strain. 
  2. Make your hamstrings stronger. Your hips and hamstrings are strengthened by strong hips, which can stop your knees from "caving in" while performing high-stress knee-bending exercises. 
  3. Maintain joint mobility. Keep moving to maintain your MCL flexible and powerful.
  4. Use a knee brace for protection. A protective brace gives your MCL more stability and support.
Also Read: 10 Exercises For Knee Pain to Reduce Knee Pain?

Conclusion -

After an MCL tear, resting and icing the knee right away might aid in the healing process. Early resumption of exercise increases the chance of future injury.MCL sprain treatment requires a comprehensive approach to promote healing, relieve pain, and restore functionality. The initial stage of treatment typically involves the RICE protocol, which includes rest, ice, compression, and elevation.Your ability to recover from an MCL tear depends on how keen you are to commit to the treatment plan recommended by your medical team, which will probably call for resting, wearing crutches, and attending physical therapy. The MCL will be able to mend more effectively as you stick to your treatment regimen.
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