The medial collateral ligament (MCL) and the lateral collateral ligament (LCL) are the two of the main ligament that strengthen and stabilise the knee joint. The medial ligament prevents the knee from collapsing inwards, while the lateral ligament prevents it from collapsing outwards.
If you are diagnosed with a mild-to-moderate sprain of the MCL or LCL, our knee specialist may:
- put your knee in a brace stabilise it while it heals
- prescribe pain-relief medication
- advise you to use crutches for 2-3 weeks
If you are diagnosed with a severe ligament rupture, our specialist may
- recommend surgery to repair the ligament
If you have not had surgery and your injury is healing as expected, our doctor may:
- refer you to physiotherapist for treatment to improve strength and movement in your knee
If you have had surgery, our doctor may
- monitor your progress to ensure that your injury is healing as expected
- refer you to physiotherapist for a programme of rehabilitation
Causes of MCL Injury
A direct blow to the outside of the knee can lead to a rupture of the medial collateral ligament, while ruptures to the lateral collateral ligament are often the result of a direct blow to the back of the knee. These injuries frequently occur if you put abnormal stress on the knee when running or jumping. Sprains or tears to the knee ligaments are also common.
Symptoms & Diagnosis of MCL Injury
If you have sprained or ruptured either of your collateral ligaments you will have severe pain around the ligament and swelling in your knee. Your knee may feel unstable and painful when you put weight on it, and you may not be able to straighten it. Our specialist will make a diagnosis through physical examination and may recommend an MRI scan or X-ray to confirm the diagnosis.
Risks & Complications of MCL Injury
If untreated, an injury to one of your ligaments could lead to damage to other parts of your knee and result in permanent instability and pain in the joint. If your case is particularly extreme, recurrent instability can cause severe degeneration of the knee cartilage, and osteoarthritis may develop.