What You Need to Know About MCL Tears

knee painYour MCL (medial collateral ligament) is one of four main ligaments in your knee that control the motion of the joint. The MCL is located on the inside of the knee joint and prevents the joint from widening. This ligament is frequently torn by impact to the outside of the knee. It is a common injury in contact sports like football. Many football players, particularly linemen, use a brace to prevent MCL tears.

MCL Injuries are Diagnosed in Grades

When your MCL is torn, you will feel pain on the inside of the knee, and your knee may give out. You will likely also experience swelling in the area. MCL tears are diagnosed on a graded scale from I to III with grade I being the least severe and grade III the most.

  • Grade I MCL Tear – This is the least severe MCL tear, and it occurs when the MCL is only partially torn. Athletes with a Grade I tear will likely only miss one to two weeks of their sport, and symptoms are minimal.
  • Grade II MCL Tear – This type of tear is also an incomplete tear, but it is more severe. The joint will swell more, and athletes will need to refrain from playing sports for three to four weeks.
  • Grade III MCL Tear – This is a complete tear, leading to pain and swelling, and difficulty bending the knee. Athletes with a grade III tear will need to wear a knee brace and stay off the field for ten to twelve weeks while they heal.

Using an MRI to Diagnose MCL Tears

An MRI can be used to determine the severity of MCL tears because it can create an accurate image of structures within your body, including ligaments. When you need a knee MRI, visit our Flushing radiology center. Make an appointment online today.