First Time User? Enroll now.
COVID-19: Vaccine information and additional resources | Medicaid: The program is changing and you must take steps to keep your UNC Health providers
Home > Health Library > Medial Collateral Ligament (MCL) Injury
A medial collateral ligament (MCL) injury is a sprain or tear to the medial collateral ligament. The MCL is a band of tissue on the inside of your knee. It connects your thighbone to the bone of your lower leg. The MCL keeps the knee from bending inward.
You can hurt your MCL during activities that involve bending, twisting, or a quick change of direction. For example, the MCL can be injured in football or soccer when the outside of the knee is hit. This type of injury can also occur during skiing and in other sports with lots of stop-and-go movements, jumping, or weaving.
You may have swelling, pain, and tenderness along the inside of your knee. Several hours after you've injured your knee, your pain may increase, and it might become harder to move your knee. You may notice some bruising.
The doctor will examine you and ask questions about your past health. He or she will also ask how you injured your knee and about your symptoms at the time of injury.
Your doctor will check your range of movement, swelling, and tenderness.
You may have some tests, including an X-ray and an MRI.
Most MCL injuries can be treated at home with rest, ice, and anti-inflammatory medicine. Your doctor may suggest that you use crutches and wear a brace that protects but allows for some movement of your knee.
You may need to reduce your activity for a few weeks. But doing gentle movement as advised by your doctor will help you heal.
A severe tear may need surgery. But this usually isn't done unless you also injure other parts of your knee, such as the anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) or meniscus.
Your treatment will depend on how severe your injury is.
Your doctor may recommend physical therapy to increase range of motion and strengthen your quadriceps muscles and hamstrings.
Most MCL injuries can be treated at home. Try these steps to reduce pain and help you heal.
Current as of:
July 1, 2021
Author: Healthwise StaffMedical Review: Adam Husney MD - Family MedicineE. Gregory Thompson MD - Internal MedicineKathleen Romito MD - Family Medicine
Current as of: July 1, 2021
Author: Healthwise Staff
Medical Review:Adam Husney MD - Family Medicine & E. Gregory Thompson MD - Internal Medicine & Kathleen Romito MD - Family Medicine
To learn more about Healthwise, visit Healthwise.org.
© 1995-2021 Healthwise, Incorporated. Healthwise, Healthwise for every health decision, and the Healthwise logo are trademarks of Healthwise, Incorporated.