MCL Tear Information

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MCL Tear Treatment

  • Cold Compression -- Relieve pain and inflammation with cold compression.
  • Rest -- Resting your injured knee is essential to faster healing.
  • Physiotherapy -- Help your knee regain strength and flexibility with exercise.
  • Blood Flow -- Stimulate blood flow once your inflammation goes down.
  • Immobilization -- A cast or brace can help keep your knee immobile.
  • Painkillers -- Over-the-counter painkillers work to temporarily relieve pain.

When treating an MCL (Medial Collateral Ligament) injury, the first step is to Rest and Immobilize your knee, as this will help you avoid doing any further damage to your MCL. Once your knee is at rest, you can use Cold Compression and Painkillers to help relieve the pain and swelling. Once your inflammation is gone, now it is time to start healing the MCL with Blood Flow. Finally, Physiotherapy will help you restore strength and full range of motion to your MCL.

LCL Tear Treatment - Cold & Compression

Cold & Compression

Ice or cold packs on your knee for 20 minutes at a time to help with the reduction of inflammation, and is always the first step in recovering from any kind of injury, whether it is in the knee or elsewhere. Cold and compression are best when used together -- cold to relieve the pain and compression to control the swelling. While you can use ice or a bag of peas from home, there are cold compression wraps on the market that are specially designed for the knee. These wraps are more comfortable and provide uniform coverage of the MCL.

If you're going to use ice or frozen peas, just be sure to wear a layer of clothing during treatment, or wrap the ice/peas in a towel to prevent burns on your skin.

LCL Tear Treatment - Rest

Rest & Elevate

Rest is essential if you want to avoid re-injury. You should avoid whatever activity caused your MCL injury, as well as any other activities that could cause further strain. Some people choose to use crutches in order to keep the weight off their injured knee. If you decide not to use crutches, at least try to limit the amount of time you spend on your feet during the day.

Prop your knee up with a pillow to reduce pressure when you lay down or sit. This will also help with the reduction of the swelling by keeping your knee above your heart.

LCL Tear Treatment - Physiotherapy


You can usually start physiotherapy once you've done about 4-6 weeks of conservative treatment, depending on the severity of your MCL injury. It is important to keep the muscles surrounding the MCL strong and flexible, so attending physical therapy is a good idea. Make sure that the physical therapist isn't hindering your healing by pushing you too hard and re-tearing anything. If it's causing pain, don't do it. This could be a sign that it's still too early in the healing process and your MCL isn't ready yet.

LCL Tear Treatment - Blood Flow

Blood Flow

Once your swelling and inflammation are gone, you need to focus on optimal blood flow. This is what will work to really speed up your recovery. There are devices on the market that can bring extra blood flow to your MCL. These devices promote nutrient-rich, oxygenated blood flow to the injured area, deep below your skin and fat. This takes the place of physical activity, which should not be done early in the healing process, as it leads to re-injury. These devices allow you to rest and receive additional blood flow at the same time. In many cases, they can even help people with MCL tears avoid surgery.

LCL Tear Treatment - Immobilization


Immobilizing the knee can help you avoid further tearing of the MCL tissue, also known as re-injury. A brace or cast may be used to temporarily keep the knee from moving. This wouldn't be worn throughout the healing process, just for several days, depending on the severity of your injury.

LCL Tear Treatment - Painkillers


Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) and analgesics can be used to temporarily relieve the pain. Just be sure not to take painkillers if you plan on being active. This is because painkillers block the pain signal, making you unaware of any damage you may be doing to your knee during physical activity. If you want to avoid re-injury, only take painkillers during times of rest.

While NSAIDs (like Advil and Aleve) work to relieve both pain and inflammation, analgesics (like Tylenol) only relieve pain.