How to Heal an MCL Tear in the Knee

Medial collateral ligament (MCL) injuries stretch or tear a ligament in the knee. According to UK Health Care, the medial collateral ligament keeps the thigh bone and leg bone in alignment along the side of the knee. This is the structure that prevents knees from buckling. Tearing the MCL is a common sports injury. Healing depends on the degree of sprain and can take six weeks or more. A MCL injury requires medical treatment for proper care. You should discuss treatment protocols with your doctor.

Step 1

Take an anti-inflammatory drug, following your doctor's dosage advice. Your doctor may provide a prescription medication to relieve swelling or suggest an over-the-counter drug, such as ibuprofen.

Step 2

Place an ice pack over the knee. This is important immediately after the injury to reduce pain and swelling. With an MCL injury, you will experience pain and tenderness on the inner side of the knee. Wrap the ice in a towel and apply for 10 to 15 minutes to the inner knee every two or three hours after the injury.

Step 3

Sit with the knee elevated for as long as there is substantial swelling; and actually above heart level immediately following the injury. Your doctor will advise you when you can begin moving around.

Step 4

Use a brace over the knee to help support it. This ligament helps keep the bones straight and prevents buckling. A brace will help reinforce the area until the tissue heals.

Step 5

Walk with crutches to avoid placing weight on the knee if advised to do so by your doctor. Use the crutches until your knee can support your weight without any pain or limping.

Things You'll Need

  • Anti-inflammatory medication

  • Ice pack

  • Towel

  • Knee brace

  • Crutches


Exercise to increase the strength in the knee when the doctor tells you it is time. Most injuries will require a professional therapist or trainer for rehabilitation. Exercises will include range of motion and strength building. Range of motion exercises keep the joint flexible. Follow your doctor’s advice on home exercise routines. Re-injuring the knee will extend the healing time and may require surgery to correct. Exercises should include routines to build up the thigh muscles and provide more support to the weak knee.

Is This an Emergency?

If you are experiencing serious medical symptoms, seek emergency treatment immediately.
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