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What is Medial Collateral Ligament (MCL) or Internal Lateral Ligament Injury?

We will explore in-depth the causes, symptoms, diagnostic methods, treatment options for this injury, and how to prevent it.
Date:
5 de May de 2024
Written by:
Dr. Pablo Gelber

The knee, one of the most complex and vital joints in the human body, relies on various ligaments to maintain its stability and functionality. Among these, the Medial Collateral Ligament (MCL), also known as the Internal Lateral Ligament, plays a crucial role. Located on the inner side of the knee, the MCL connects the femur (thigh bone) to the tibia (shin bone) and is essential for knee stability, especially during lateral movements. MCL injuries are common and can significantly impact the mobility and quality of life of those affected.

IIn this article, we will explore in depth the causes, symptoms, diagnostic methods, treatment options for this injury, and how to prevent it. For those seeking personalized advice, Dr. Pablo Gelber offers specialized consultations and can provide comprehensive guidance on managing and recovering from this injury.

Types of MCL Injuries

MCL injuries are classified into three grades according to their severity:

  • Grade 1 (Mild): A slight stretching of the ligament with a few torn fibers. The knee may present mild pain and slight swelling, without significant instability.
  • Grade 2 (Moderate): A partial tear of the ligament occurs, causing moderate pain, swelling, and a feeling of instability in the knee. It is common to experience difficulty walking.
  • Grade 3 (Severe): A complete tear of the ligament results in severe pain, considerable swelling, and pronounced instability in the knee. The patient may have great difficulty or be unable to walk without assistance.

Common Causes

MCL injuries usually occur due to:

  • Direct trauma: Direct impacts on the outer part of the knee, common in contact sports such as football or rugby.
  • Sudden movements or twists: Rapid changes in direction or forced movements that put excessive strain on the ligament.
  • Falls: Incorrect landings after jumps or direct falls onto the knee.

Symptoms

  • Pain on the inner side of the knee.
  • Swelling around the affected area.
  • A feeling of instability in the knee.
  • Difficulty walking or putting weight on the affected leg.
  • Stiffness and decreased range of motion.

Treatment

The treatment for MCL injuries depends on the severity:

  • Rest and Ice: To reduce swelling and pain in mild injuries.
  • Compression and Elevation: To help control inflammation.
  • Medications: Pain relievers and anti-inflammatories may be prescribed for pain and inflammation.
  • Physical Therapy: Specific exercises to strengthen the muscles around the knee and improve stability.
  • Immobilization: In more severe cases, a splint or knee brace may be used to immobilize the knee while it heals.
  • Surgery: Rarely necessary, but may be considered for complete tears or if other knee structures are also damaged.

Prevention

  • Strengthening the leg muscles, especially those that support the knee. Exercises such as squats, leg extensions, heel raises, leg curls, or resistance band exercises are beneficial as they condition the quadriceps, hamstrings, and glutes.
  • Using appropriate footwear that provides support during sports activities, especially for specific sports.
  • Practicing correct techniques in sports to avoid sudden movements and twists, including agility, flexibility, and stretching exercises.
  • Using knee protectors in contact sports to reduce the risk of injuries.

MCL injuries are common and range in severity from mild sprains to complete tears. The treatment strategy is determined by the severity of the injury and can range from conservative approaches to, in rare circumstances, surgical intervention. For more information, write to Dr. Pablo Gelber.

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