Treating a Knee Injury to the Medial Collateral Ligament

Inner knee pain can come on gradually or suddenly. Gradual discomfort may happen due to repetitive strain, such as a long-distance runner developing this symptom. It also can happen when a carpenter or other worker has to spend a lot of time kneeling. Sudden inner knee pain from often is caused by an injury to the medial collateral ligament or MCL. Wearing certain kinds of knee sleeves and braces can prevent worsening of the injury and allow the ligament to heal.

How These Injuries Occur

The technical name for the inner knee is the medial knee. Sudden pain in this part of the body typically results from a strain, sprain or tear of the MCL. The injury most commonly occurs when someone twists the knee too far. Pivoting while playing basketball or racquetball is an example of how this can happen, but people may injure the MCL at their job or even doing yard work.

An injury also can happen to the ligament if the inside of the knee is struck by a hard object. Sometimes two players collide while playing a sport and the inside of the knee is hit. Clumsy accidents like banging a knee on the car door can cause a remarkable level of pain, indicating a possible ligament contusion.

Physical Therapy for Treatment


Physical therapy is an effective method for treating knee pain caused by an MCL injury. A personalized exercise program will include specific types of stretches along with other activities to strengthen the soft tissues around the knee. Straight leg lifts and mini squats are two examples of exercises that can be done at home. Walking and swimming are ideal with little to no impact on the knee joints.

Resting and Icing the Knee

Before this can happen, the knee may need to be rested for a few days. The leg can be kept elevated and the person should apply ice or a cold compress. That might be a bag of frozen vegetables, ice wrapped in a few plastic bags or some washcloths.

Bracing for Support

More serious injuries may require bracing the knee for a few weeks for stability. Sometimes putting any pressure on it without a brace, such as during walking, can cause too much pain. The joint may feel weak and unstable. Braces are available from suppliers like Mueller Sports Medicine; a doctor or physical therapist must instruct the patient on which specific device to use.

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