Your Guide to MCL Surgery

Medial collateral ligament surgery, also known as MCL surgery, is a procedure performed by orthopedic surgeons to treat injuries and conditions affecting the MCL.

The MCL is a crucial ligament on the knee’s inner side that helps stabilize it. Surgery may be necessary to restore stability and function when this ligament becomes damaged or torn. If you or a loved one needs MCL ligament surgery, the award-winning North Carolina Specialty Hospital has orthoscopic experts specializing in MCL repair right here in the neighborhood.

What You Need to Know About MCL Surgery

Whether you damaged your MCL from a sports-related knee injury such as being tackled in football, a fall where you’ve landed on your knee, or even repetitive knee movements or heavy lifting at work, your injury can range from a mild sprain to a complete tear.

What Are the Symptoms of an MCL Tear?

Symptoms include:

  • Pain and tenderness on the inner side of the knee
  • Swelling and bruising around the knee are
  • Difficulty bearing weight on the affected leg
  • Instability or feeling that the knee may give out

If you’re experiencing any of these symptoms, it’s important to consult an orthopedic surgeon specializing in treating knees. They will be able to diagnose your injury and determine if MCL tear surgery is necessary.

Can an MCL Tear be Treated Without Surgery?

Treatment options vary depending on injury severity. In some cases, a mild sprain may be able to heal with nonsurgical methods such as rest, ice, compression, and elevation (RICE), as well as physical therapy to strengthen the knee. However, more severe tears may require surgery to repair and stabilize the ligament.

MCL surgery is typically recommended for ligament tears classified as Grade 2 or Grade 3. These tears involve significant damage to the ligament, making it difficult for it to heal on its own. MCL ligament surgery reattaches or reconstructs the torn ligament and restores stability to the knee joint.

What Are the Types of MCL Tear Surgery?

There are several different procedures depending on the tear’s severity and location. These include:

  1. MCL Reconstruction: This is a common procedure where the torn ligament is replaced with a graft taken from another part of the body or donor tissue. The graft serves as a scaffold for a new ligament to grow, ultimately restoring stability to the knee joint.
  2. MCL Repair: In some cases, the MCL can be repaired using sutures or other techniques to bring the torn ends of the ligament back together. This procedure is typically reserved for partial tears or tears in a specific ligament area.
  3. MCL Augmentation: This procedure involves reinforcing the torn MCL with an additional graft or material to provide extra support and stability. This is often done in combination with other MCL surgeries or when the ligament has poor healing potential.

How Long Does MCL Surgery Take?

It varies depending on the patient and the specific procedure being performed. On average, torn MCL surgery typically takes one to two hours to complete.

During surgery, the orthopedic surgeon will make small incisions near the knee and use specialized tools to repair or reconstruct the damaged MCL. The surgeon may use sutures, grafts, or other techniques to restore stability to the knee joint.

What Can You Expect From MCL Surgery Recovery?

Close-up of orthopedic surgeons’ hands in gloves and holding instruments as they operate on a patient’s MCL tear.MCL surgery recovery time varies depending on the procedure performed, as well as individual factors such as age, overall health, and how well instructions are followed. Generally, it takes about 6-8 weeks for the initial healing of the ligament after surgery. However, complete recovery and return to normal activities may take several months.

  • Hospital stay: Patients aren’t typically released from the hospital right away. The stay length depends on the procedure type performed and individual recovery progress. It’s common to spend at least one night in the hospital for observation and initial pain management.
  • Knee brace or cast: Right after the surgery, the knee is immobilized with a brace or cast to protect the repaired ligament. Your NCSH orthopedic surgeon may prescribe pain medication or over-the-counter alternatives to help alleviate discomfort during the initial recovery stages.
  • Weight-bearing restrictions: These are common after surgery, especially in the initial recovery stages, to help the repaired ligament heal properly. Gradually, weight-bearing activities may be introduced with the use of crutches or a walker.
  • Physical therapy: This is essential to help restore strength, flexibility, and range of motion in the knee joint. Your NCSH physical therapist will develop a customized program based on your specific needs and progress. This may include exercises to strengthen the surrounding muscles, improve balance and stability, and promote proper movement patterns.

North Carolina Specialty Hospital MCL Experts Are Here for You

If you believe you need MCL surgery or have concerns about your knee health, talk to an orthopedic surgeon specializing in MCL injuries and treatments. At NCSH, our knee experts will evaluate your condition, provide an accurate diagnosis, and recommend the most appropriate treatment for your situation.

Learn more about our award-winning orthopedics department and our many board-certified specialists. Just click on a doctor’s photo to make an appointment from their personal page, and then relax—you’ve taken an important step toward regaining knee health and comfort.



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