When is MCL Tear Surgery Needed?
Following an MCL tear, you should rest, ice, compress, and elevate the knee. An orthopedic evaluation by a knee specialist is recommended. The orthopedist will evaluate the knee to confirm whether there are other injuries besides an MCL tear and also what grade the MCL tear is. Xrays will be obtained. Depending on the physical exam findings, an MRI may also be ordered.
Most MCL tears will heal in a knee brace as long as the injured MCL is immediately protected in the brace soon after the injury, patients are compliant in wearing the brace, and patients avoid any activities that can further stretch the injured MCL while it is trying to heal. However not all MCL tears will heal normally in a brace and some MCL tears require surgical reconstruction to fix them and restore full stability to the knee. MCL surgery is needed when:
- Patients continue to feel unstable and the MCL is found to be lax on physical exam despite 6 weeks of wearing a knee brace.
- MCL tears where the ligament is seen on an MRI to have pulled away from its normal attachment site on the tibia (not the femur) and is significantly retracted such that it will not heal in its proper position.
- Chronic MCL laxity following a knee injury in the distant past that never fully healed and where patients have continued instability and pain.
- A major knee injury resulting in multiple ligaments tears in the knee including the MCL