The medial collateral ligament (MCL) is one of the four main ligaments in the knee. It runs along the inside of the knee – connecting the tibia (shinbone) to the femur (thighbone). The MCL prevents the knee from going inwards and assists with joint motion.
Ligaments are strong connective tissues. If a sprain occurs, the ligament can stretch and become loose. A severe injury may result in a tear, where the ligament splits in two, often preventing the knee from being held securely in place. A tear can cause:
- A popping sound at the time of the injury.
- Pain and/or tenderness on the inside of the knee.
- Swelling to the area that may spread to other areas of the knee joint.
- Knee stiffness – may be difficult to bend and/or straighten.
- Kneecap feels loose, lack of stability.
There are many factors or causes associated with a MCL injury. However, an MCL injury is a common injury for those involved in contact sports, in which a collision with another player pushes the knee sideways. In addition, a blow to the knee or contracting the muscle as one is running and turning can result in a MCL injury. Quarterback Tom Brady tore his ACL and MCL, as did NFL running back Adrian Peterson.
Other factors associated with a MCL injury include:
- Muscle weakness
- Improper lifting techniques
- Overuse/repeated stress to the knee
It is important to seek care if you have been involved in an accident or are experiencing any of the symptoms listed above. Your doctor may order medical imaging – such as an MRI, which can show the soft tissue around the knee joint. An MRI creates accurate images of structures inside the body – such as the ligaments, detailing the location and severity of the injury. An MCL injury is diagnosed on a graded scale as follows:
Grade l: (Least severe) The ligament has been stretched – but is not torn. It may take 1 -2 weeks to heal.
Grade ll: The ligament has been partially torn, and there may be instability in the knee joint. Healing may take 3 – 6 weeks.
Grade lll: (Most Severe) The ligament is completely torn, with joint instability. It may take up to 16 weeks to heal.
Dynamic Medical Imaging of Union, NJ – Experts in Personal Injury Imaging, offers the only Upright MRI in the area. DMI’s Upright MRI provides accurate and comfortable diagnostic testing – eliminating the closed-in, claustrophobic experience of a traditional, recumbent MRI.
Dynamic Medical Imaging also offers 3D MRI Rendering – the creation of a 3 dimensional digital model from standardized MRI study. This is accomplished by using the latest technology to ‘stack’ the highly detailed, thin, slice cross-sectional images from the MRI to generate the 3D model. Higher resolution, crisp images, additional angles, and details provide vital information for treatment.