Treatment for MCL Sprain
Last week while I was running on the bike path, I slipped on a patch of ice. My right knee twisted, gave way, and I ended up on the ground. My knee is still tender and swollen. It sounds similar to the injury that Jay Cutler suffered during the recent Bears game. What is the recommended treatment and recovery time for an MCL sprain?
Dr. Bernard R. Bach:
Jay Cutler has suffered an MCL sprain in his left knee. The MCL or medial collateral ligament of the knee is a thick band of tissue located on the inside of your knee. This ligament connects the thigh bone to the shin bone and provides stability to the inside of the knee.
An MCL sprain is usually the result of the knee being directly hit on the outer part of the knee or from repeated stress to the ligament, which causes the MCL to stretch or tear. This will result in pain and possible instability along the inside of the knee. Your symptoms would suggest that you may have torn or sprained your MCL.
In most cases, a torn MCL will not require surgery. MCL injuries are graded 1, 2 and 3.
Grade 1 tears are considered mild sprains. Treatment consists of icing, physical therapy and anti-inflammatory medications. Most patients can get back to pre-injury level of activity without difficulty.
Grade 2 tears are moderate to partial tears of the MCL. A brace is usually recommended to provide stability to the knee. You may or may not require crutches. The remainder of treatment is the same as a Grade 1 injury. Recovery may take four to six weeks.
Grade 3 tears are considered complete tears of the MCL. A consultation with an orthopaedic physician is usually recommended. If the injury is isolated to an MCL tear, patients may need to use crutches for a week or two. A brace would be used to provide stability to the knee during the healing process. The remainder of the treatment plan would be the same as Grade 1 or 2. Generally speaking, the recovery time may take two to four months of treatment.
If your pain persists, I would recommend that you consult with a physician for a proper diagnosis and treatment plan.
This information is not intended as a substitute for the professional advice of your physician, nor to be a complete description of every aspect of a condition, nor a complete list of possible side effects of any medication. Decisions concerning your treatment should be based on your own health care provider's evaluation of your personal health history and current condition. Consult your physician before following any of the suggestions on this Web site. All articles on this Web site represent the personal opinions of the individual authors and should not be construed as official policy of Midwest Orthopaedics at Rush.