Medial collateral ligament (MCL) injuries

What causes an MCL injury?

MCL injuries normally happen when the knee is forced inwards into an excessive ‘knock knee’ position. This may be because the outside of the knee is struck or because the foot is caught and the knee is forced sideways. An MCL injury can vary from a mild tear to a full tear of the ligament. This type of injury is more common in children and teenagers.

What are the symptoms?

  • An injury can cause sharp pain on the inside of the knee along with swelling
  • The knee may also feel wobbly – as if it could give way

How is it diagnosed?

A diagnosis made during a medical examination can be backed up with X-rays and an MRI scan to show the extent of the damage.

How is it treated?

Most MCL injuries heal without surgery. Using a hinged knee brace for around six weeks will prevent excessive sideways movement and allow the MCL to heal naturally without being overstretched. This, together with physiotherapy, is often the only treatment required. Surgery is usually only necessary for professional athletes or where there is a long term (chronic) MCL tear associated with an ACL injury.

Important: This information is only a guideline to help you understand your treatment and what to expect. Everyone is different and your rehabilitation may be quicker or slower than other people’s. Please contact us for advice if you’re worried about any aspect of your health or recovery.