The Medial Collateral Ligament Complex (MCL) comprises structures which connect the inside of the leg bone (tibia) to the thigh bone (femur). The MCL restrains the tibia from moving excessively towards the inside beneath the femur - Pl see Knee Anatomy & Function.
MCL injuries could range from the more common minor strains to severe tears which might occur alone or associated with other ligament tears.
Undetected and thus untreated tears could lead to progressive instability and thus either affect the result of a ligament reconstruction or cause a drift of the tibia towards the outside (a valgus deformity). This can result in a painful, unstable knee.
MANAGEMENT OF MCL TEARS
Minor strains are quite common. They are successfully treated by resting the knee in a brace for approximately 3 weeks followed by gradual supervised mobilization.
The more severe tears which are generally associated with other ligament injuries are more problematic. They have traditionally been treated conservatively (in a brace) as surgical intervention invariably led to a stiff knee. Recent modalities and techniques have permitted us to achieve good results with repairs and reinforcements (whereby the repaired ligament is further supported with additional structures).
This is a significant advancement in Knee Surgery especially when associated cruciate ligaments (the ACL or PCL) are reconstructed.