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What you need to know about recovering from an MCL tear

September 18, 2019

MCL (medial collateral ligament) tears are infamous, and very intimidating if you’ve been diagnosed with one. If you are not the one who has been diagnosed with a tear, and it’s your child...this could be even scarier. However, there is no need to worry! MCL tears can be treated, and most the time a fully healed MCL will allow you to resume your normal activities. If you are an athlete, you might not be at full capacity but it does vary person to person! Your Wyoming and Nebraska physical therapist has compiled the things you need to know when recovering from an MCL tear.

First...How do you know if you are injured? If you are unsure on whether you have an MCL tear, the following should cause you to seek help from a medical professional:
  • Swelling on and around the knee
  • Popping sound upon injury
  • Pain/tenderness on and around knee
  • Instable feeling - perhaps it feels like it’ll give out or it locks often

What type of tear do you have? 
The first thing you need to know, and that your doctor will tell you, is what type of tear you have. MCL tears vary in severity from Grade 1 to Grade 3 - with Grade 3 being the most severe. Here is what the grades mean for you:
Grade 1: Ligament is stretched but not torn meaning you should only experience pain and discomfort
Grade 2: Ligament is partially torn, meaning this can cause some instability
Grade 3: Ligament is completely torn, and will cause instability

Knowing the type of tear you have will be important in determining how to treat and heal the ligament. The grade will also affect how quickly you will be able to resume normal activities, and if you are an athlete it’ll determine the likelihood of long term of effects.

Once again, the type of treatment you will receive for an MCL injury depends on the grade. But in general, you can expect rehab or even surgery. Rehabilitation for an MCL injury will include: 
Physical therapy - Your physical therapy will be designed and planned to help improve your range of motion, and slowly restore your knee to its normal functionality 
Support - You’ll most likely need to wear a knee brace
Rest - Make sure that you adhere to your doctor’s recommendations and rest as needed 

Surgery is rare when it concerns an MCL injury, and is only used if the ligament and body can’t repair the tear alone. No matter how painful you feel that your injury is, check with your doctor to see if it will be a necessity. All MCL injuries will be treated differently and should be as everyone is different. Once you’ve been diagnosed with an injury, consult us at North Platte Physical Therapy for your physical therapy program. We serve the communities of Wyoming and Nebraska with 22 clinics offering a full range of physical therapy services. Contact us today for more information.