Recovering from a Torn Medial Collateral Ligament

No one wants a knee injury, of course, but if you have one, a torn medial collateral ligament (MCL) is one of the least serious. This is because MCLs will often heal on their own—meaning no surgery and a full return to activities, even when dealing with the most severe tears.

Located on the inside of your knee, the MCL attaches the thighbone to the lower leg bone. It keeps your knee from turning inward and can easily be injured when performing activities that require sudden changes in direction, or quick twists and turns—the types of movements common in sports such as skiing or soccer, for example.

The good news is that MCLs are known for their ability to heal, as opposed to other common knee injuries like a torn anterior cruciate ligament that necessitate surgery or lengthy immobilization. When the MCL is torn, a blood clot forms, setting into motion a natural repair process involving “healing” blood cells that help correct the tear.

The protocol for treating an MCL injury is determined by the severity of the tear.

  • Grade 1 tears, considered to be mild, can be treated by having you use crutches for a few days, as well as resting and icing the knee at home.
  • Grade 2 tears are a bit more serious and may mean you have to wear a hinged knee brace and avoid putting weight on your knee for a few weeks.
  • Grade 3 tears are the worst type of MCL injury, but even these do not usually require surgery. Instead, you will be instructed to wear a hinged knee brace for approximately six weeks while you are using crutches.
  • For all grades of tears, we may insist that you wear a shoe with a heel at least one inch in height as you return to walking to enhance your gait.

Regardless of the MCL tear severity, working with us will increase your range of motion and strengthen the tendons and muscles surrounding the injured MCL.

We can design and implement a progressive therapy program that aids your body’s natural ability to heal the MCL. The earlier we can start your individualized exercise program, the less likely your problem will become chronic and the sooner you can return to the activities you enjoy.