Medial Collateral Ligament Injuries

The medial collateral ligament (MCL) is one of the major ligaments of the knee. It connects the two bones of the knee (the femur and the tibia) and helps to stabilize the joint. It is located on the side of the knee closest to your other leg (medial side).

A moderate to severe amount of force is usually required to tear the MCL. Tears can be partial or full thickness (incomplete and complete).

To view a video of MCL Insufficiency, click here.

Diagnosis is based on the mechanism of injury, clinical examination and tests such as MRI. While it is possible to damage the MCL in isolation, other structures within the knee such as the anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) or the menisci are often damaged at the same time.


MCL injury treatment depends on the degree of injury sustained. Partial thickness tears are treated conservatively, possibly with a brace. Full thickness tears are sometimes treated with surgery but often a brace is all that is required.

Most ligaments heal with no long term problems but the knee can occasionally be unstable or have ongoing pain.

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