The medial collateral ligament (MCL) is a ligament in your knee. It’s one of four ligaments in the knee that function to keep the knee joint in place. When the MCL becomes injured, this is often a result of a tear or stretch that goes beyond the capacity of the ligament. They can cause significant pain in the knee. Some tears may be partial, while others may result in the ligament detaching from the knee bone.
If you or someone you know has recently suffered from an MCL injury and may need surgery, learn more here about the surgery, recovery time, and some helpful recovery tips.
How do I know when an MCL might require surgery?
Not every MCL injury requires surgical treatment. Many cases can heal without surgery and may be treated with rest and physical therapy. A procedure might be necessary in cases where the ligament needs to be reattached to the bone. Major MCL tears occur when the ligament fully tears away from part of the knee bone. When there is a major tear, there may also be a need for surgery. Whether this treatment is appropriate for your MCL tear is up to you and a trusted medical professional to decide.
What is the typical MCL surgery recovery time?
The amount of time it may take for a person to spend recovering from their MCL surgery can vary depending on several factors, but there is a general timeline that patients can expect. Generally, you are allowed to return home the same day your surgery occurs. During the first part of the recovery process, your stitches will usually be taken out about a week or so after the initial surgical procedure. You’ll be ordered to use crutches and wear a knee brace for around six weeks immediately following your surgery. After about six weeks, your doctor may then determine if you’re ready to come out of the brace and stop using crutches. The amount of time it takes for your knee to fully recover after MCL surgery varies on the severity of the injury, how well the surgery went, and how well you take care of your knee the weeks following the surgery. It can take anywhere from nine months to one year for the knee to get better; however, the recovery time after MCL surgery can be lengthened or even shortened depending on whether you follow the tips listed below.
What are some tips to shorten recovery time after MCL surgery?
- Make sure you rest enough — Resting after MCL surgery is essential. Your body will need time to heal itself and recover after this major surgery. Those who don’t allow their bodies the recommended amount of rest after this procedure risk aggravating their injuries and prolonging the healing process.
- Do gentle exercises — Gentle exercises will probably be recommended to you by a doctor or other medical professional. You should complete these exercises regularly, both at home and under the supervision of a professional who can ensure that you’re completing them correctly and continuously. Regular movement, within your pain threshold, can help build muscle strength, reduce scar tissue buildup and improve mobility.
- Keep inflammation down — You’ll also want to try your best to keep the inflammation in your MCL down as much as you can. Some methods of doing so include icing your knee after surgery and taking anti-inflammatory medications. You’ll also want to try avoiding any sudden or harsh movements that may aggravate the injury and produce more inflammation.
- Wear a brace — Your doctor will instruct you to wear a brace around your knee to limit movement and protect your knee after MCL surgery. During the initial phase of the recovery process, you’ll want to make sure you keep your knee brace on as much as possible to avoid prolonging the healing process and putting your knee at risk of reinjury.
- Meet with a virtual physical therapist — A physical therapist can help you perform the correct exercises for your MCL after your surgery. They are experts in helping patients through the recovery process. Virtual physical therapy offers all of the same benefits as in-person PT, while also being more convenient for patients who may be temporarily immobile from their MCL surgery, who lack transportation, or who simply wish to be time efficient. Research shows that virtual physical therapy is just as effective as in-person physical therapy.
Agile Virtual Physical Therapy can help speed up your MCL surgery recovery time
We understand that going to regular in-person physical therapy sessions can be a serious time commitment. When you consider the time it takes to drive to and from your sessions, the sessions themselves, and other related factors, in-person PT can be tedious. Fortunately, getting the care you need doesn’t have to be.
Are you finding it a challenge to go out after your MCL surgery? Virtual physical therapy is a time-efficient and equally effective treatment option for those who have recently undergone MCL surgery and are working on shortening their recovery time. Virtual PT can be done from the convenience of your own home. It requires nothing other than a stable internet connection and a device with a video camera. You’ll be able to meet with a qualified physical therapy professional who can lead you through each session. You can get the right treatment for your MCL after your surgery without needing to sacrifice any more recovery time than is necessary.
Agile Virtual Physical Therapy can offer more than 400 licensed clinicians. We’re committed to providing effective PT care through our telehealth platform. At Agile Virtual PT, we provide services in 45 U.S. states and free virtual screenings.
At Agile Virtual Physical Therapy, we have experienced professionals who are qualified to create a personalized plan with you containing at-home physical therapy exercises customized for your age and fitness level.
Contact our team today for more information or to schedule an initial appointment to get started on your surgery recovery journey.