28 August 2017,

MCL tear symptoms

The medial collateral ligament (MCL) helps to stabilize the knee joint and prevent it from becoming too mobile or “opening.” This essential ligament is very strong, but if the outside of the knee is hit hard enough, the MCL can be torn. Most commonly, this occurs while playing a contact sport such as football. If you are experiencing pain in your knee joint following a sports injury, an MCL tear may be to blame. MCL tear symptoms can be mild, moderate, or severe depending on the grade of the injury.

MCL Tear Symptoms

You may experience any of the following MCL tear symptoms:

  • – Grade I MCL Tears – MCL tears categorized as Grade I involve a partial tear of the ligament. The symptoms tend to be mild and typically resolve in about 2-4 weeks without the need for surgical MCL repair. Symptoms may include slight pressure and/or pain inside the knee.
  • – Grade II MCL Tears – Grade II MCL tears are also incomplete, but they come with more severe symptoms such as knee instability and significant pain and swelling. The recovery period tends to be about 4-6 weeks for this grade of injury.
  • – Grade III MCL Tears – This grade refers to a complete tear of the MCL. Grade III MCL tears typically involve knee instability, significant pain and swelling, and trouble bending the knee. A patient with this type of MCL tear can generally expect to take six weeks or more to recuperate fully.


While MCL tears can usually be healed with nonsurgical methods such as rest, a knee brace, and physical therapy, MCL repair surgery is sometimes needed. For instance, if the MCL tear is accompanied by an ACL tear or another ligament injury, which is often the case with Grade III tears, surgery will likely be necessary. If surgery is used for MCL repair, the orthopedic surgeon will make a small incision on the inside of the knee and either reattach the ligament to the bone or sew the torn ends together.

As for MCL repair recovery time, this depends on the associated injuries. If it is associated with ACL reconstruction, then the recovery follows the ACL timeline. In order to facilitate a speedy recovery, a combination of pain medication, a knee brace, and strengthening physical therapy exercises will likely be prescribed.

Trust Dr. Soffer for Skillful MCL Repair

Now that you know the basics of MCL tears, including MCL tear symptoms and MCL repair recovery time expectations, it’s time to discuss your treatment options with a qualified orthopedic doctor. Dr. Stephen R. Soffer has certification from the American Board of Orthopedic Surgery and uses cutting-edge technologies to diagnose and treat MCL tears.

To schedule an appointment with Dr. Soffer, call our 24-hour sports injury hotline at 610-375-4949. We look forward to offering you the best in sports medicine care.

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