Encyclopedia Home / M / Medial collateral ligament (MCL) injury of the knee

Medial collateral ligament (MCL) injury of the knee

  • Alternative Names

    Knee injury - medial collateral ligament (MCL); MCL injury


    First Aid

    The health care provider will examine your knee. An MCL test will be done to detect looseness of the ligament. This test involves bending the knee to 25 degrees and putting pressure on the outside surface of the knee.

    Other tests may include:

    • Knee joint x-rays
    • Knee MRI

    Treatment includes:

    • Applying ice to the area
    • Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDS)
    • Raising the knee above heart level

    You should limit physical activity until the pain and swelling go away.

    The health care provider may put you on crutches and in a brace to protect the ligament. You may also be told not to put any weight on your knee when you walk.

    After a period of keeping the knee still, you will be taught exercises to strengthen and stretch the knee. Physical therapy may help you regain knee and leg strength.

    Surgery is often not needed when only the MCL has been torn.

    If you need surgery, it will be done using arthroscopy, through a small surgical cut.


    Do Not


    Call immediately for emergency medical assistance if

    Call your health care provider if:

    • You have symptoms of MCL injury
    • You are being treated for MCL injury and you notice increased instability in your knee, pain or swelling after they initially faded, or your injury does not get better with time
    • You re-injure your knee