There are four ligaments that provide stability to the knee joints. They are the anterior cruciate ligament, posterior cruciate, lateral collateral ligament and medial collateral ligament. The main function of the medial collateral ligament is to prevent the knee from hyper-extension inwards and allow rotation to happen. However when the MCL is overstretched due to trauma, it can tear quite easily. A tear to the MCL can be on its own but it is more commonly in conjunction with a tear to the ACL and meniscus.
The first symptom following an injury to the MCL injury is pain. Pain will be quite severe over the inside of the side of the knee where the MCL is located. Swelling will be evident and bruising may occur a few days after the MCL injury. In serious cases of MCL injuries, you may even experience shakiness of the knee and feel like the knee is unable to take your body’s weight and is giving way.
There are 3 different grades of MCL injury ranging from grade 1 to grade 3. In grade 1 MCL injuries, the MCL is merely injured and is not torn. As such, symptoms are pretty mild with swelling, bruising and pain being the most common ones. Most patients are able to return back to sports within a few weeks. In grade 2 MCL injuries, the MCL is still not torn but injury to it is much more extensive. Symptoms of instability will occur in grade 2 injuries and the pain will be much more compared to grade 1. This usually occurs during high speed sudden turning when the foot is still stuck to the ground while the knee is attempting to change direction. Nearly one month worth of recovery time is required to recover from a grade 2 MCL injuries. A grade 3 MCL injury is the worst. It implies a complete tear of the MCL and sometimes, tears to other ligaments such as the ACL and meniscus will accompany it. Pain will be quite unbearable and the knee will be very unstable and will seem unable to take the body’s weight. A knee brace will be required to provide additional support and if other ligaments are torn as well, it will complicate thing and surgery will be the most viable option.
Knee ligaments are crucial in the stabilisation of our knee joint and allow us to carry out our daily motion without any hindrances. A MCL injury will have a negative impact on it and will cause us to have difficulties doing even basic things.