Medial Collateral Ligament

Medial Collateral Ligament (MCL) Injuries

The medial collateral ligament (MCL) is one of four ligaments that keep the knee joint stable. The MCL spans the distance from the end of the femur (thigh bone) to the top of the tibia (shin bone) and is on the inner side of the knee joint. That’s why it’s so painful when the ligament is stretched too much or torn. The ligament is usually injured when the outside of the knee joint is struck, during sports or an accident, for example. MCL injuries can occur by themselves or with other injuries such as an ACL or meniscus tear.

If you have — or suspect you have — an MCL injury or tear, you should know that the physicians at the University of Michigan Department of Orthopaedic Surgery have the expertise to diagnose and treat this painful condition. We are among the oldest and most well-regarded orthopaedic units in the country, performing more ACL, MCL, PCL and meniscus operations than some hospitals do in a five-year period.

Medial Collateral Ligament (MCL) Injury Treatment Doctor in Pune


Some typical symptoms include:

  • Bruising
  • Feeling that the knee is unstable, may give out or may buckle
  • Pain directly over the ligament (the most common symptom)
  • Swelling of the torn ligament and/or knee joint


When you come to the University of Michigan:

  • We will take your complete medical history, ask you about your pattern of symptoms and conduct a physical exam.
  • We can diagnose an MCL during a physical exam.
  • We may conduct tests such as X-rays.

Then we will use all of this information to develop an individualized treatment plan for you. 



Most MCL tears don’t require surgery, and we like to take a non-surgical approach first. Your doctor may recommend treatments such as:

  • Anti-inflammatory medicine
  • Ice
  • Crutches, brace or splint
  • Physical therapy – The University of Michigan has a top-notch Physical Therapy and Rehabilitation unit that is fully ready to take part in your care and set you on the path to a pain-free life. 
  • Reducing activity for awhile
  • Rest
  • RICE (Rest, Ice, Compression and Elevation is very important acutely).

The most important component in full recovery is physical therapy.    

Are there different types of MCL tears?

Your healthcare provider will describe your MCL tear as one of the following three grades:

  • Grade 1: A grade 1 MCL tear is a mild tear in which less than 10% of fibers in your ligament are torn and your knee is still stable. You’ll likely have some tenderness and mild pain if you have a grade 1 tear.
  • Grade 2: A grade 2 MCL tear is a moderate tear in which your MCL is partially torn — usually the superficial part of your MCL. Your knee will likely be loose when it’s moved by hand, and you’ll probably have intense pain and tenderness along the inner side of your knee.
  • Grade 3: A grade 3 MCL tear is a severe tear in which your MCL is completely torn — both the superficial and deep parts. Your knee will likely be very unstable and loose, and you’ll probably experience intense pain and tenderness. It’s common for someone to have other knee injuries, especially damage to their anterior cruciate ligament (ACL), if they have a grade 3 MCL tear.

What are the symptoms of an MCL tear?

The symptoms of an MCL tear can vary based on how severe your tear is. If your MCL (medial collateral ligament) is torn, you may experience the following signs and symptoms:

  • Hearing a popping sound at the time of the injury.
  • Experiencing pain in your knee.
  • Having tenderness along the inner side of your knee.
  • Having stiffness and swelling in your knee.
  • Feeling like your knee is going to “give out” if you put weight on it.
  • Feeling your knee joint lock or catch when you use it.

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