Medial Collateral Ligament (MCL)

Medial Collateral Ligament (MCL)

What is the medial collateral ligament?

The MCL is a band of tissue located on the inner side of the knee joint. It plays a crucial role in stabilising the knee, preventing it from excessive valgus. The MCL attaches to the thigh bone (femur) and the shin bone (tibia).

Mechanism of Injury:

MCL injuries often occur due to:

Valgus Force

This force occurs when there is a direct impact on the outer side of the knee, forcing it inward. In skiing and snowboarding, this can happen during falls, collisions, or awkward landings.

Twisting Movements

Sudden twisting or pivoting of the knee, which is common in sports like skiing and snowboarding, can also contribute to MCL injuries. This injuries often coincides with a meniscus or ACL injury.

MCL Injuries in Skiing and Snowboarding

MCL injuries are relatively common due to the dynamic nature of these activities.  Factors contributing to MCL injuries include

Improper Technique

Incorrect skiing or snowboarding technique, especially during turns or jumps, can put extra stress on the knee and increase the risk of MCL injury.

Terrain Conditions

Uneven terrain, moguls, or icy patches can lead to unpredictable movements, increasing the likelihood of MCL injuries.

Grade Description Symptoms Treatment Return to Activity
Mild stretching of the MCL without significant tearing.
Mild pain and tenderness on the inner side of the knee. Minimal swelling. Slight discomfort during movement.
R.I.C.E. Protocol: Initially to manage pain and swelling.

Medications: Over-the-counter anti-inflams may be prescribed by your doctor.

Physical Therapy: Rehab exercises to improve range of motion and strengthen surrounding muscles.

Full recovery is expected within a few weeks. Gradual return to normal activities and sports as symptoms improve.
Partial tearing of the MCL with moderate instability.
Moderate pain, swelling, and tenderness. Noticeable instability of the knee during movement. Limited range of motion.
Rest: 0-5 days

P.O.L.I.C.E Protocol: Protect (brace), Optimal Loading, Ice, Compress, Elevate

Physio: More intensive rehabilitation to restore strength and stability.

Possible Crutches: In severe cases they may be recommended to reduce weight-bearing.

Medications: NSAIDs as prescribed by a healthcare professional.

Recovery may take several weeks to a few months.

Gradual return to activity guided by a physiotherapist.

Complete tearing of the MCL, resulting in significant instability.
Severe pain, swelling, and tenderness.

Marked instability, making weight-bearing difficult.

Limited or no range of motion.

Rest: 0-5 days. Crutches may be prescribed.

P.O.L.I.C.E Protocol: Protect (brace), Optimal Loading, Ice, Compress, Elevate Medications: NSAIDs as prescribed by a healthcare professional.

Physio: Comprehensive rehabilitation to regain strength, stability, and range of motion.

Possibly Surgery: In some cases, surgical intervention may be considered, especially if there are associated injuries.
Recovery may take several months, and the timeline can vary. Gradual rehabilitation and return to activity under close supervision.