MCL Sprain

The MCL or Medial Collateral Ligament is a long band of tough tissue that runs along the inside of the knee. It attaches from the lower thighbone down to the shinbone a couple of inches below the knee. It functions to prevent excessive inward movement of the knee. An MCL Sprain is graded in terms of severity, can be very painful and is an issue we see regularly at Harris & Ross.

Causes of Injury

It is a common sporting injury, routinely seen in contact sports. This is usually caused by impact to the outside of a partially bent knee, forcing the knee inwards, e.g an opponent falling onto the knee. This can lead to overstretching, a partial tear or even a full tear of the ligament. It is also seen in non-contact sports such as skiing.

The severity of damage to the ligament will vary. They are graded from 1 to 3. A Grade 1 sprain being mild, through to Grade 3 sprains involving a complete tear of the ligament resulting in significant laxity.


Signs and Symptoms

  • Pain across the inside of the knee
  • Swelling
  • Tenderness to touch the ligament
  • Knee may feel unstable


Treatment For MCL Sprain

Mild Sprains

With milder Grade 1-2 injuries they are normally given a specialist hinged knee brace. This is used to support and protect the damaged ligament for a time period of 4-6 weeks. During this period it is possible to start a rehabilitation program. The brace along with exercises encourage early healing of the injured tissue.


Severe Sprains

More severe Grade 2-3 sprains may be managed with surgery and/or with a limited motion knee brace. These injuries tend to require 8-12 weeks of rehabilitation.


Physiotherapy for MCL sprain injuries includes:

  • Reducing swelling and pain
  • Gently increasing range of motion
  • Releasing tension in surrounding muscles
  • Gait re-education
  • Strengthening muscles of the lower limb
  • Increasing Cardiovascular fitness
  • Agility drills
  • Return to running / sport specific exercise program

To make an appointment for an initial physio assessment at our ManchesterWilmslow, Altrincham or Wigan clinics, and discuss a treatment plan for our MCL Sprain call Harris & Ross on 0161 832 9000 or click the book now icon below.