A partial medial collateral ligament tear is an injury to one of the ligaments that support your knee. It is a serious injury that must be treated properly. Once you feel strong enough, you may begin biking, which can help you regain flexibility in your knee without causing any additional damage.
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The medical collateral ligament (MCL) is one of four ligaments in your knee, used to stabilize the joint and connect your leg bones. The MCL runs along the inner part of your knee, connecting your femur (thighbone) to your tibia (shinbone). It is responsible for preventing your leg from extending too far inward. Tears in your MCL can occur when too much pressure is applied to the outside of your knee. A partial tear means only part of the ligament is torn, as opposed to a complete tear where the ligament is torn in two. When a tar occurs, you will notice swelling in your knee, pain and tenderness, and the inability to put pressure on your knee.
MCL tears are classified into three groups, or grades, from 1 to 3, with 3 being the most severe. Your ability to return or start to exercise is dependent on the severity of your tear. A grade 1 tear is defined by Cedars-Sinai hospital as having some tenderness and minor pain at the point of the injury. A grade 2 tear is characterized by noticeable looseness in the knee, major pain and swelling. Along with considerable pain and tenderness, grade 3 tears are marked by the patient’s inability to fully open their knee joint.
Treatment for a MCL tear varies depending on the severity of your injury. These injuries usually respond well to non-surgical treatment. If this is the case, you should rest, take over-the-counter pain medications, and wear a knee brace for a few days. If the tear is more severe, you may need surgery, in which a surgeon will make a small incision on the side of your knee and sew your ligament back together.
Biking is a good exercise to begin rehabbing your knee. It can help you gain strength but does not require side-to-side movement of your leg, which can damage your knee. You should start on a stationary bike to limit the pressure on your knee. Do this for 20 to 30 minutes each day. During the first three to six weeks following your injury you should wear a knee brace. This will prevent side-to-side motion but allow you to move forward and backward.
Make sure to follow your doctor’s directions for treating your injury. It is important to get enough rest and to increase your physical activity gradually. If you are having trouble pedaling a full revolution, place your injured leg on the pedal, and pedal back and forth until you can complete a full cycle.