MCL Tear/Sprain

The medial collateral ligament (MCL) is a ligament that stabilizes the inside of your knee.  Injury to this ligament can result in knee instability, especially with cutting and change of direction.  Most MCL injuries can be treated conservatively with physical therapy, but a full rupture, or an injury in conjunction with injury to other ligaments of the knee, may require surgery.

An MCL tear/sprain most commonly occurs from a plant and twist mechanism, an outside to inside force on the knee, or a major trauma (fall, car accident, assault, etc).

– Previous injury. 

– Hip weakness. 

– Poor lower body mechanics with running/jumping/cutting. 

– Gender (females are more prone to this injury).

– Pain on inside of knee. 

– Swelling/bruising. 

– Restricted range of motion. 

– Difficulty walking.

At Home Care

– Immediately begin edema protocol – compression, elevation, ankle pumps, ice/NSAIDs as needed. 

– Crutches as needed for walking.


When to Seek Help 

If you are experiencing the above symptoms, please see your physical therapist immediately.  Your physical therapist will provide a comprehensive evaluation and determine if you need medical imaging or further assessment by an orthopedic surgeon, as well as provide immediate treatment to get you feeling and moving better – you won’t find this in an orthopedic quick care or PCP’s office!


Inspired Athletx Treatment

Both conservative management and post-surgical care follow a similar structure, with certain weight bearing and range of motion restrictions included after surgery.  The immediate goal is to reduce swelling, improve pain, and increase range of motion through a combination of manual therapy and active exercise.  Progressive return to activity will include general strength training for the core and lower body, improving lower body mechanics, overall mobility, and balance.  As the patient nears return to sport, the focus shifts toward sport specific activities, including running, jumping, and change of direction drills.