The knee gives way or feels like it is going to give way when it is active or stressed in a certain way
The health care provider will examine your knee. An MCL test will be done to detect looseness of the ligament. This test involves bending the knee to 25 degrees and putting pressure on the outside surface of the knee.
You should limit physical activity until the pain and swelling go away.
The health care provider may put you on crutches and in a brace to protect the ligament. You may also be told not to put any weight on your knee when you walk.
After a period of keeping the knee still, you will be taught exercises to strengthen and stretch the knee. Physical therapy may help you regain knee and leg strength.
Surgery is often not needed when only the MCL has been torn. Most MCL injuries can heal with immobilization.
If you need surgery, it will require an open incision where the ligament is repaired back to the bone.
When to Contact a Medical Professional
Call your health care provider if:
You have symptoms of MCL injury
You are being treated for MCL injury and you notice increased instability in your knee, pain or swelling after they initially faded, or your injury does not get better with time
You re-injure your knee
Use proper techniques when playing sports or exercising. Many cases are not preventable.
De Carlo M, Armstrong B. Rehabilitation of the knee following sports injury. Clin Sports Med. 2010; 29:81-106.
Singhal M, Patel J, Johnson D. Medical ligament injuries: 1. Medical collateral ligament injuries in adults. In: DeLee JC, Drez D Jr., Miller MD, eds. DeLee and Drez's Orthopaedic Sports Medicine. 3rd ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Saunders Elsevier; 2009:chap 23;sect C.
Silverstein JA, Moeller JL, Hutchinson MR. Common issues in orthopedics. In: Rakel RE, ed. Textbook of Family Medicine. 8th ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Saunders Elsevier; 2011:chap 30.
Linda J. Vorvick, MD, Medical Director and Director of Didactic Curriculum, MEDEX Northwest Division of Physician Assistant Studies, Department of Family Medicine, UW Medicine, School of Medicine, University of Washington. C. Benjamin Ma, MD, Assistant Professor, Chief, Sports Medicine and Shoulder Service, UCSF Department of Orthopaedic Surgery. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M. Health Solutions, Ebix, Inc.