When it comes to your ability to move around, participate in sports, and simply walk, your knee joints are vital. The knee itself is made up of multiple ligaments, bones, and tendons and of all of these different parts that need to work together to make the joint work.
One of these parts is called the medial collateral ligament or MCL. It is responsible for adding a little more stability to your knee and leg as well as preventing your knee from bending in dangerous directions. If you are noticing some pain in the inside portion of your knee or if you feel unsteady on one or both of your feet you may have injured your MCL.
Your medial collateral ligament is on the inside part of each leg and knee and connects your shin bone (your tibia) to your thigh bone (your femur). This particular band of tissue is not actually located within the join of your knee but runs beside the joint on the inner side of your leg. Injuries to this tissue may often be referred to as an MCL sprain, however, with injuries to this part of the body, there are multiple grades or levels of injury. When you damage a ligament in your body, you may stretch the ligament or in the more severe degrees of injury, you could tear the ligament.
There are some symptoms to keep in mind if you believe that you may have injured or damaged either your right or left medial collateral ligament. There is a possibility that you may actually hear an audible popping sound at the moment of the injury. You may also feel unsteadiness in your knee, or when you put weight on your leg you might feel like your knee is going to buckle or give out.
Also, you will more than likely notice that you have some tenderness on the inner aspect of your thigh, knee, and leg as well as potential swelling. In some cases, you could find that your knee feels like it is catching inside the joint, or it is also possible that your knee and leg may even lock up depending on the way the injury happened and the degree of damage to the tissue. If you find yourself experiencing any of these signs and symptoms, you should probably have your knee and leg checked out by a medical professional.
Causes and Risk Factors
Damaging the tissue of MCL can be common in sports, especially contact sports such as football. MCL tears are often the result of a direct impact on the outside of the lower leg and/or knee – that type of forceful hit can cause the tissue on the inner side of the leg and knee joint to stretch or even tear in more traumatic situations. This ligament can also end up being damaged if the joint becomes hyperextended causing the tissue to stretch and possibly tear.
Recovery from an MCL injury is not always fun but there are some things that you can do to help speed it along and maybe make it a little less painful. Rest is usually always helpful when healing from just about any injury and MCL injuries are no different, so rest as much as possible and try to stay off your feet when you are able to. Using a compression brace on your knee might help to improve blood flow and combat swelling as well as reduce your pain.
Icing the area of your leg and knee that hurts can also lower the level of pain you experience and limit swelling too. While you are resting, you will want to keep whichever leg suffered the injury elevated, this may help to reduce the inflammation and irritation that you are probably living with while recuperating.
After the time period set by your doctor has passed and you have followed up with them you may want to try putting a little bit of weight on the injured leg. If you can do this with no irritation, try walking and if you are able to do so without feeling pain or tenderness then you may be ready to make your come back. Remember though, when you are coming back from an injury it is almost always best to ease back into your workout regimen or routine, this can help you avoid re-injury.