Medial Collateral Ligament (MCL) Injuries

Knee ligament injuries are common, especially medial collateral ligament (MCL) tears / ‘sprains’. These injuries and the much less frequent posterior cruciate ligament (PCL) tears rarely require surgery although early diagnosis and (where necessary) bracing can avoid more serious problems later. More uncommon but sometimes devastating injuries are those involving more than one ligament. These are often high-energy injuries requiring a combination of surgery, bracing and rehabilitation and their long-term outcomes (prognoses) are less predictable.

The medial collateral ligament (MCL) is a broad ligament which sits on the inner aspect of the knee, connecting the femur to the tibia. The role of the MCL is to help stabilize the bones of the knee joint. It prevents excessive movement of the tibia moving outwards relative to the femur (valgus direction).

MCL injury is the commonest of the knee ligament injuries. It may occur in isolation, or in combination with ACL rupture, meniscal tears, complex ligament injury, or fracture. MCL tears occur with a wrenching or twisting injury- eg. a “valgus” contact injury. It is painful when it happens. A tearing sensation may be felt. Swelling and pain is only felt on the inner aspect of the knee. If the whole knee swells up rapidly, it is probably more than just an MCL injury.

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