Medial Collateral Ligament Injury

Medial Collateral Ligament Injury

What is the medial collateral ligament?

The medial collateral ligament (MCL) is situated along the inner (medial) side of the knee.

It stretches as a band between its attachments on the femur (thigh bone) down onto the tibia (shin bone). The primary role of the MCL is to stabilise the knee joint against forces pushing the knee inwards.

Injury Incidence

It is most frequently injured in the sporting environment and can be damaged in isolation or in combination with other structures, typically the anterior cruciate ligament (ACL). Injury to the MCL can cause pain on the inner side of the knee and if badly torn can cause localised swelling and bruising.


X-Rays and MRIs are carried out to determine the extent of the injury.

Treatment & Prognosis

The good news about an injury to the MCL is that it has a good capacity to heal and rarely needs surgical treatment. The vast majority of tears settle down well with appropriate time and physiotherapy. The time frame out of sports can vary from a few weeks to a few months depending on the grade and severity of injury. If the injury is associated with an ACL tear then it can alter the treatment plan and the MCL is often left to settle down first before the ACL surgery takes place.

In certain circumstances, surgical reconstruction of the MCL may be warranted and depends on the tear location, degree of residual instability and if any other ligaments are torn in conjunction. Mr Jackson will discuss this option in detail with you if it is the appropriate treatment, especially in the multi-ligament injury scenario.