Someone with a partially or completely torn MCL may or may not have symptoms, depending on the severity of the injury. Pain and swelling can be intense initially, and some people with more severe injuries will have some instability when walking, feeling "wobbly" or unable to put weight on the affected leg.
How long does it take to recover from a torn MCL?
Recovery times differ depending on the severity of the injury: A minor, or grade 1, MCL tear can take from a few days to a week and a half to heal sufficiently for you to return to normal activities, including sports. A grade 2 tear can take from two to four weeks to heal.
What does it feel like to have a torn MCL?
An injury to the MCL leads to swelling and pain in the medial, or inner, aspect of the knee. Patients will often feel pain with knee bending or twisting maneuvers. When an MCL tear is severe, the athlete can feel a sense of instability or opening on the inside of the knee.
The MC ligament attaches to the femur (thigh bone) and tibia (shinbone). Recovery Time: A minor, or grade 1, MCL tear can take from a few days to a week and a half to heal sufficiently for you to return to normal activities, including sports. A grade 2 tear can take from two to four weeks to heal.
For a grade 1 MCL injury, there may be mild tenderness on the inside of the knee over the ligament. There is usually no swelling. When the knee is bent to 30 degrees and an outward force applied to the lower leg to stress the medial ligament, pain is felt but there is no joint laxity (play valgus stress test video).
Immediate treatment options include:
- applying ice to reduce swelling.
- elevating your knee above your heart to help with swelling.
- taking nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) to ease pain and swelling.
- compressing your knee using an elastic bandage or brace.
If you sustain a Grade 1 MCL injury, you can expect to be back out on the running trails in only 2 to 4 weeks. Symptoms of a Grade 2 MCL sprain are more severe and runners with these types of injuries usually report significant pain and swelling of the MCL.
A torn meniscus usually produces well-localized pain in the knee. The pain often is worse during twisting or squatting motions. Unless the torn meniscus has locked the knee, many people with a torn meniscus can walk, stand, sit, and sleep without pain.
If you've torn your meniscus, you might have the following signs and symptoms in your knee:
- A popping sensation.
- Swelling or stiffness.
- Pain, especially when twisting or rotating your knee.
- Difficulty straightening your knee fully.
- Feeling as though your knee is locked in place when you try to move it.
Treatment of a ligament injury varies depending on it's location and severity. Grade I sprains usually heal within a few weeks. Maximal ligament strength will occur after six weeks when the collagen fibres have matured. Resting from painful activity, icing the injury, and some anti-inflammatory medications are useful.
- Sit with your affected leg straight and supported on the floor or a firm bed. Place a small, rolled-up towel under your knee.
- Tighten the thigh muscles of your affected leg by pressing the back of your knee down into the towel.
- Hold for about 6 seconds, then rest for up to 10 seconds.
- Repeat 8 to 12 times.
If you can't bend your knee to a 90 degree angle or straighten out your leg because of pain, stiffness and swelling, then it is likely that you've torn your ACL. Set an appointment with your doctor. A torn ACL will weaken your quadraceps (thigh muscles), making it difficult to lift your leg or even straighten it out.
To diagnose an LCL injury, your doctor will examine your knee and look for swelling. They'll also move your knee in various directions to determine where your pain is and how severe your symptoms are. If your doctor believes you may have a torn ligament, you may undergo imaging tests like X-rays or MRI scans.
Signs and symptoms of a PCL injury can include:
- Pain. Mild to moderate pain in the knee can cause a slight limp or difficulty walking.
- Swelling. Knee swelling occurs rapidly, within hours of the injury.
- Instability. Your knee might feel loose, as if it's going to give way.
Overview of a meniscus tear. The meniscus is a piece of cartilage that provides a cushion between your femur (thighbone) and tibia (shinbone). There are two menisci in each knee joint. They can be damaged or torn during activities that put pressure on or rotate the knee joint.
An ACL injury can occur if you:
- Get hit very hard on the side of your knee, such as during a football tackle.
- Overextend your knee joint.
- Quickly stop moving and change direction while running, landing from a jump, or turning.
The pain can go all the way down to your calf or ankle and there can be swelling down to the ankle as well. A blood clot in the veins of the lower extremity also can cause pain — usually in the back of the leg, and swelling. If you have bleeding into your knee from an injury, it can cause swelling.
Swelling (Edema) and Diabetes - Swelling in the Legs, Ankles and Feet. Edema (known as oedema in the UK) is a build up of fluid in the body (water retention) which causes swelling. Edema commonly affects the legs, ankles, feet and wrist. Water retention is often treatable, with treatment varying depending on the cause.
Deep vein thrombosis (DVT) occurs when a blood clot forms in one of the deep veins of your body, usually in your legs, but sometimes in your arm. The signs and symptoms of a DVT include: Swelling, usually in one leg (or arm) Leg pain or tenderness often described as a cramp or Charley horse.
Signs and symptoms of a blood clot depend on the location, and may include: Blood clot in the leg (DVT): Pain, redness, and swelling in the area around the blood clot. Blood clot in the lung (pulmonary embolism): Shortness of breath, chest pain, and rapid pulse and breathing.
The most common tests used to diagnose DVT are:
- Ultrasound. This is the most common test for diagnosing deep vein blood clots.
- A D-dimer test.
- Other less common tests used to diagnose DVT include magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and computed tomography (CT) scanning.
If you have swelling in one leg, the area is painful and warm, and symptoms get worse over time, be sure to seek medical care. If you feel a pain in your leg, it's likely a cramp or a pulled muscle. But it could be a much more serious condition: blood clots of deep vein thrombosis, also called DVT.
For one, the pain might remind you of a severe muscle cramp or charley horse. If your leg is swollen, elevating or icing the leg won't reduce the swelling if it's a blood clot. With a blood clot, your leg may also feel warm as the clot worsens. You may even notice a slight reddish or bluish hue to your skin.