Known as the MCL, the medial collateral ligament connects the thigh and shin bones. This ligament also provides strength and stability to the knee joint. When an individual takes a blow to the outer knee, it can cause the MCL to be stretched or torn. Those who play contact sports such as football are at an increased risk for MCL injuries, but they can affect anyone. MCL tears/sprains are ranked by severity using a graded scale. For instance, a moderate MCL injury might be described as a grade 2 partial MCL tear.
Types of MCL Injuries: Grades 1-3
Similarly to other ligament injuries, MCL tears and sprains are categorized by grade, with grade 1 being the least severe and grade 3 being the most severe. Here is a brief overview of the three different types of MCL injuries:
- Grade 1 (mild MCL injury) – When the MCL is stretched but not torn, or less than 10% torn, it is referred to as a grade 1 injury. Symptoms of a grade 1 MCL injury are typically mild. They may include minor pain/pressure in the knee, especially when force is applied. These injuries often resolve on their own within 1-3 weeks.
- Grade 2 (partial MCL tear) – Tending to cause swelling, knee instability and more severe pain, a grade 2 partial MCL tear is an incomplete but significant tear. Patients with this kind of MCL injury can expect a recovery period of around 2-4 weeks.
- Grade 3 (complete MCL tear) – A grade 3, total MCL tear may be indicated by symptoms such as difficulty bending the knee, trouble bearing weight and significant pain, swelling and tenderness in the knee joint. The recovery period for this type of injury is generally six weeks or longer.
Many MCL injury symptoms overlap with those of other knee injuries and conditions. If knee symptoms linger, it’s advisable to visit a sports medicine physician so that you can receive an accurate diagnosis and any necessary treatment.
Dr. Soffer Specializes in Caring for Patients with MCL Injuries
Are you experiencing persistent knee discomfort that is interfering with your quality of life? It may be time to see an orthopedic doctor. Dr. Stephen Soffer is a board-certified orthopedic surgeon with extensive experience in diagnosing and treating injuries involving the MCL, ACL and other ligaments.
After examining your knee, Dr. Soffer will advise you on the right course of treatment for your injury. He uses cutting-edge methods and prioritizes minimally invasive treatments whenever possible. Above all, his mission is to help his patients make a full and speedy recovery so that they can resume a rewarding lifestyle.
To schedule an appointment with Dr. Soffer, please call our office at 610-375-4949. We look forward to helping you resolve your knee issue as quickly as possible.