28 October 2021,
MCL or meniscus pain

If you’re experiencing lingering knee pain and discomfort after a fall, a misstep or a sports accident such as a blow to the knee, you may be wondering: Is this MCL or meniscus pain? The symptoms for an MCL (medial collateral ligament) tear/sprain vs. a meniscus injury can overlap quite a bit, and thus it can be hard to tell the difference. However, there are certain indicators you can look for. 

MCL or Meniscus Pain: How to Tell the Difference

To gain insight into whether you are likely experiencing MCL or meniscus pain, it’s helpful to compare the ways in which they happen and their typical symptoms. While MCL injuries are generally a result of a direct blow to the outer side of the knee that pushes the knee inwards, meniscus injuries are usually the product of direct pressure on the knee following a forced twist or rotation.

Furthermore, patients with an MCL injury often notice:

  • – Knee swelling and stiffness
  • – Mild to severe knee pain (often starts immediately after the injury occurs)
  • – Tenderness along the inside of the knee
  • – A feeling that the knee may lock, catch or give way when attempting to bear weight 

Meanwhile, common signs that the meniscus has been damaged or torn include:

  • – A popping sensation at the time of the injury 
  • – Knee swelling and stiffness
  • – Pain, particularly when rotating the knee
  • – Difficulty straightening the knee all the way
  • – A feeling that the knee is locked

Is It Your Meniscus, Your MCL or Something Else?

Ultimately, seeing an orthopedic specialist is the only way to confirm whether you are experiencing MCL or meniscus pain. Through an in-depth physical examination – potentially involving an MRI or another type of imaging – a skilled orthopedic physician will be able to correctly diagnose your knee injury, including its location and grade (severity). Based on their findings, they will then suggest the best course of treatment to resolve your knee issue and symptoms. 

Create an Effective Knee Healing & Rehabilitation Plan with Dr. Soffer 

If you’re living with knee discomfort and dysfunction that isn’t improving with rest, it may be time to visit a trusted orthopedic professional such as Dr. Soffer. Having completed a sports medicine fellowship with world-renowned sports surgeon Dr. James Andrews, Dr. Soffer is an esteemed knee surgeon specializing in minimally invasive arthroscopic surgery. 

In addition to comprehensive surgical solutions, he also offers the full range of nonsurgical treatments for knee injuries and conditions. To learn more about Dr. Soffer and arrange an appointment, call our Wyomissing, PA office at 610-375-4949.

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