Medial Collateral Ligament (MCL) Tear

The medial collateral ligament attaches the femur to the tibia on the inner side of the knee. It helps to restrain the knee from opening up through the inner part. Hence, it plays a role in maintaining knee stability.


A tear of the MCL is graded:

Grade I: minimal fibres torn, pain but no laxity

Grade II: up to 50% of fibres torn, pain, slight localised swelling, laxity of about 5mm, knee is unstable when slightly bent but stable when it is fully straightened

Grade III: fibres are completely torn, hence there may not be any pain but increased swelling and instability is likely to be present. Grade III tears are usually associated with an ACL injury.


What Causes an MCL tear?

A tear of the MCL is usually caused by a force that forces the inner part of the knee to open up.It often happens while the knee is slightly bent. There may be an indirect cause such as in downhill skiing or a direct cause such as a player falling onto the outside of the knee.


What are the symptoms of an MCL tear?

Often pain is localised to the medial side of the knee. There is usually some swelling present. The knee often feels unstable.


Patients often respond well to physiotherapy treatment. Grade 3 tears may sometimes require surgical repair if it has not responded to conservative management.


Treatment for an MCL tear

Physiotherapy aims to restore pain- free range of movement with capacity to return to normal activity through soft tissue releases, knee motor control and strengthening exercises, stretches and proprioceptive exercises. Correcting movement patterns and joint mechanics will also help to prevent future episodes of pain.


Your Physiotherapist will discuss your treatment goals and educate you about the condition, the rehabilitation process and preventative methods to reduce the risk of future injury.


To book an appointment with one of our skilled Physiotherapists please call (02) 8068 8832 or email us at [email protected].