Knee > MCL Tear > Treatments

   Non-Surgical Treatment

Home recovery

The initial treatment for most grade 1, 2, or 3 MCL (medial collateral ligament) tears is aimed at reducing the pain and inflammation in the knee, and immobilizing the knee to keep it stabilized. Rest, icing, elevation, and pain relievers such as aspirin and ibuprofen can ease pain and swelling. To immobilize the knee, your physician may recommend that you wear a lightweight cast or brace that will allow your knee to move backward and forward but restricts side-to-side movement. Immobilization usually is recommended for 72 hours, depending on severity. The cast or brace may be designed so that you cannot bend your knee. If this is the case, you will need to modify your behavior so that you can avoid having to squat, kneel down, or bend over. You should try to keep your leg elevated even if you are sitting in a chair, to reduce blood flow to the knee. Depending on the success of the above measures in reducing pain and swelling, you may be able to start on a rehabilitative program after a few days.


The medial collateral ligament has a good blood supply, and usually responds very well to non-surgical treatment. Depending on the severity of the injury, a period of rest, bracing, and physical therapy usually is sufficient to complete the healing process. Once an MCL has fully healed, you should have a minimum of long-term effects, providing there was no other damage to the knee. Recovery times differ depending on the severity of the injury:

   A minor, or grade 1, MCL tear can take from a few days to a week and a half to heal sufficiently for you to return to normal activities, including sports.

   A grade 2 tear can take from two to four weeks.

   A grade 3 tear usually takes from four to eight weeks, unless it is associated with damage to the ACL, in which case the recovery time may be longer.

Once pain and swelling have subsided, you should be able to commence exercises to restore strength and normal range of motion to your knee. If you are still experiencing soreness while you are doing exercises, you should proceed slowly to prevent further irritation.


   Knee strengthening exercises: Ligament injuries



Though collateral ligament injuries often occur during sports and are difficult to avoid, there are several steps you can take to improve the overall strength and flexibility of your knee:

   Manage your weight. Every pound in excess of your normal weight puts three or four additional pounds of pressure on your knee every time you take a step.

   The hamstrings, in the back of the thigh, and quadriceps, the muscles in the front of the thigh, are crucial shock and impact absorbers. These muscles must be kept strong and flexible to protect the joint surfaces in your knee.

   Stretching before exercising should be a regular part of your warmup; however, it is important not to over-stretch. Never push or pull on your leg with your hands while you are stretching, and avoid squatting during your warmup, which can put stress on your knee joint.

   Well-cushioned, well-fitting athletic shoes can reduce the impact of the load exerted on the knee.

   If you are engaging in activities that require a lot of twisting and turning such as racket sports, skiing, soccer, and basketball, do not assume you can play yourself into shape; make sure you are in good physical shape before you play.

Non-Surgical Treatment
   Home Recovery
Surgical Repair

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