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Medial Collateral Ligament Injury
(MCL Injury)


The medial collateral ligament (MCL) is a ligament on the inside of the knee which provides stability for the knee with lateral motions. It connects the femur (thigh bone) to the tibia (larger bone in your shin).

Causes & Symptoms

Injuries to the MCL occur most commonly from a direct blow to the outside of the knee resulting in a stretching of the inside of the knee. Symptoms of an MCL tear include swelling on the inside of the knee, pain, bruising, and difficulty with walking.

Evaluation & Treatment

Initial evaluation begins with a medical history, physical examination, and x-rays to rule out other associated injuries. Specialieed physical examination maneuvers may be done to determine the extent of the injury.

Initial treatment of an MCL injury is nonsurgical treatment including pain and swelling control. Crutches, a knee brace, and physical therapy may be recommended. If there is clinical suspicion of a complete tear or additional injury to the knee an MRI will be ordered. Occasionally the MCL may be torn in a way that will not heal and surgical treatment may be considered.

Surgical treatment of an MCL tear is done as an outpatient where the ligament is repaired. In a chronic injury, graft may be used to supplement the repair. Recovery typically takes 6-12 weeks with physical therapy.