The MCL is one of the main ligaments within the knee. This thick membranous band is situated on the interior of the knee joint which attaches at the femur and tibia.
The MCL prevents forces that cause the knee to collapse inward. Always bear in mind that a sprained or torn MCL typically occurs during sports when there is valgus stress or a direct blow from the exterior of the joint. Individuals who play basketball and football are prone to a torn MCL. There are steps to take in order to determine whether an individual has a torn MCL but an MRI is required for the doctor to come up with an actual diagnosis.
- The individual should consider how the knee was injured and compare it to how the MCL was damaged. In most cases of a torn MCL, they are due to a direct blow on the knee which causes the joint to break down to the middle of the body. This places stress on the MCL that can cause it to rupture.
- Analyze the symptoms experienced by the individual. A torn MCL is typically linked with significant swelling, catching or locking of the knee while extending or flexing the joint along with tenderness or pain at the interior of the knee. In some cases, the knee has the tendency to give away while walking.
- Find a way to reduce the pain and swelling to allow diagnosis testing. In case the knee is not significantly swollen, you can check if the MCL is damaged. You can reduce the swelling by applying an ice pack, elevating the knee above the level of the heart or provide him/her with a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID).
- You can perform the valgus stress test on the affected knee. The individual should sit on a table with both legs extended with the affected knee slightly hanging off one side. The individual should rest their hip against the knee and place the closest hand on the interior of the knee to keep it steady against the hip. Reach across the place their other hand on the interior of the ankle, pulling it towards them. If the knee joint feels flimsy and has significant laxity or allowed to open further than normal, he/she has a sprained or torn MCL.
When to consult a doctor
It is best to consult a doctor if in doubt. The doctor will require an X-ray to check for injuries to the bone or an MRI to diagnose a torn MCL as well as determine its grade of injury.
Important considerations to bear in mind
A doctor can provide an actual diagnosis of the condition. Surgery is not usually required for a torn MCL but those that are linked with simultaneous damage to the anterior cruciate or ACL and it is vital that the right treatment can be started for full recovery.
When determining the extent of the injury, it is vital to avoid stress by using a knee brace or support. In case the pain is too intense, a doctor might recommend crutches.