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MCL Damage

MCL damage

The Medial Collateral Ligament (MCL) is a ligament in the knee. It connects your shin bone to your thigh bone, and is on the inner side of your knee. It helps to keep your knee stable and, along with the Lateral Collateral Ligament (LCL), controls its sideways movement.

What is MCL damage?

Often, MCL damage is a tear or nearly complete tear to the MCL. It can also be an overstretching of the ligament. It is the knee ligament that is the most often damaged and may also be referred to as a sprain.

It’s possible that if you experience MCL damage, you might also injure other parts of your knee (e.g. meniscus or cruciate ligaments) as well.

What are the symptoms of MCL damage?

The symptoms of MCL damage can vary depending upon its severity, and often include:

  • Pain or tenderness on the inside of the knee
  • Stiffness on the inside of the knee
  • Swelling
  • Bruising
  • Instability
  • Inability to put weight onto the affected leg

What causes MCL damage?

MCL damage is most often caused by a hit to the outside of your knee. The hit can cause the MCL to fully or partially tear, or to stretch.

MCL damage can happen for a variety of reasons, including:

  • Sports – both those that involve direct contact (e.g. rugby, ice hockey) or those that require quick turns and stops (e.g. football, skiing)
  • Repeated stress on the knee
  • Falls

How is MCL damage diagnosed?

If you have been experiencing any of the symptoms above and you suspect that you might have MCL damage, you should see your consultant.

Your consultant will ask how you have been coping since your injury and conduct a physical examination, where they will check your knee’s stability and assess how much pain you are in. They may press on your leg when it is bended and straight in order to determine how severe the MCL damage might be.

They may also recommend that you undergo further tests, including:

  • X-rays
  • Stress X-rays
  • MRI

How is MCL damage treated?

The treatment you receive for MCL damage will depend upon its severity. It is rare that MCL damage will need to be treated with surgery.

Non-surgical options for MCL damage include:

  • Rest and crutches
  • Over-the-counter pain medications
  • Wearing a brace
  • Physiotherapy

For more severe MCL damage, or if there are other injuries to the knee, surgery might be needed and you and your consultant can discuss what the appropriate surgical options for you based on your injury.

If you’re unsure what treatment you should go for, or the above treatments don’t work for you, our team of expert specialists are here to help.

This content has been checked and approved by

Mr Sam Oussedik  ›

Mr Sam Oussedik is a consultant orthopaedic and trauma surgeon with an NHS practice at UCLH.

Knee Assessment Package

Knee pain, or an inability to trust your knee, can severely restrict your mobility and prevent you from enjoying your day to day life. Whether caused by general wear and tear, work that exerts extreme pressure on the knees, or a sporting injury, pain and stiffness of the knee that lasts more than a week is a sign of an underlying problem, which if addressed could be remedied.

With this one-stop knee assessment package, we’ll establish the cause of your knee problem and provide you with a bespoke treatment plan.

Prices from

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Knee Unit

Find your specialist in MCL damage at King Edward VII's Hospital

If you suspect you have MCL damage and you’re seeking an expert opinion, you can find the UK’s leading knee specialists here at King Edward VII’s Hospital. Our consultants are hand-picked for you, making it easy to access the best possible care.

Mr Sean Curry  ›
Special interests include:
Hip surgery (+ 3) more
Mr Luke Jones  ›
Special interests include:
ACL Surgery (+ 7) more
Mr Sam Oussedik  ›
Special interests include:
Sports injuries (+ 6) more
Mr Deepu Sethi  ›
Special interests include:
Keyhole surgery (+ 11) more

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