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  • The medial collateral ligament (MCL) is one of the major knee ligaments providing stability to the knee

  • The primary function of the MCL is to prevent the leg bone from turning out (valgus) relative to the thigh bone. 

  • Injury to the MCL can lead to knee instability 

  • Occurs more in males than females

  • 40% of knee ligament injuries are MCL tears, making them the most common knee ligament injury


  • MCL tears can occur in the setting of multiple ligament injury or in isolation with a direct force directed on the outside of the knee (valgus stress)

  • Contact MCL injuries are more common than noncontact


  • MCL tears are almost always associated with a pop followed by immediate pain in the inside (medial side) of the knee

  • Knee bruising and mild swelling can be seen after MCL tears


  • The vast majority of MCL injuries are treated without surgery

  • Mild grade 1 MCL tears can be treated with a short period of rest, anti-inflammatories and a course of physical therapy or home exercise program with a focus on strengthening the quadriceps and hip adductors. 

  • Grade 2 or 3 MCL tears can be treated with hinged knee bracing as well as physical therapy

  • Full or complete grade 3 MCL tears with instability can be managed with surgery consisting of open MCL repair or reconstruction


  • Functional bracing in football players and linemen can decrease the incidence of MCL injuries

MCL Tear capture 1.png
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