About MCL Injury and Laxity
The knee joint is surrounded by a joint capsule with ligaments strapping the inside and outside of the joint (collateral ligaments) as well as crossing within the joint (cruciate ligaments). These ligaments provide stability and strength to the knee joint. The Medial Collateral Ligament (MCL) of the knee is on the inner side of the joint and can be stretched or torn when valgus stress (forcing the knee to move inward) is applied suddenly. Ligament sprains are commonly graded on a 1-3 scale, with grade 1 meaning a small sprain with minimal evidence of fiber discontinuity on advanced imaging to grade 3 which implies complete tear with no intact fibers. This ligament is usually injured traumatically with a sudden valgus stress such as getting clipped or hit from the side, especially when the foot is planted. The MCL can be torn together with other important stabilizing structures in the knee.
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Symptoms of MCL Injury and Laxity
If you have an MCL injury, you may experience symptoms in your knee including pain on the inside aspect of the knee, swelling, a feeling of laxity or instability.
Treatment for MCL Injury and Laxity
The MCL will often heal on its own, even if completely torn. If the MCL is chronically lax or dysfunctional after an injury, Platelet Rich Plasma (PRP) therapy and Bone Marrow Concentrate containing stem cells are great non-surgical treatment options for an MCL injury. Treating an MCL injury begins with advanced diagnostics using the latest technology such as the Regenexx regenerative medicine platform. Ospina Medical in New York City can devise a treatment plan that is tailored to your specific injury to reduce pain and reduce laxity and instability of the MCL.
If you have been diagnosed with or suspect an MCL injury or have symptoms that may be related to MCL instability, contact our medical team at Ospina Medical. We offer advanced MCL treatments at our office in Midtown Manhattan in New York City.
MCL Injury and Laxity FAQ
What's the most common cause of a torn MCL?
Most often, MCL sprains or tears occur when the knee is forced inwards from the side while the foot is firmly planted on the ground. This often occurs in sports settings, though MCL injuries can also result from overuse and other causes.
How do I know if my MCL is torn or sprained?
It can be difficult to know with certainty what the extent of your MCL injury is, as the symptoms of a sprained MCL are very similar to those of a torn MCL. Many people report hearing a popping sound when either injury occurs. Dr. Kohler will examine the knee to evaluate the severity of the injury. Imaging studies, like an MRI, may be ordered if needed.
What happens if you leave a torn MCL untreated?
Even in a grade 3 MCL injury - when the ligament is completely torn - it can often heal on its own with proper lifestyle choices, physical therapy, and activity restrictions. In some cases, however, patients continue to struggle with pain, discomfort, or laxity long after tearing or spraining their MCL. In these cases, our innovative treatments - like Regenexx or PRP injections - may be beneficial. MCL injuries rarely require surgery.