Bone, Joint and Muscle Conditions

MCL Injuries

What Are MCL Injuries?

MCL injuries are damage to the medial collateral ligament (MCL) in the knee. The MCL is one of four major ligaments that keep the knee from wobbling when you move. To understand MCL injuries, it helps to know a little about how the knee works.

The knee is a large joint where the shinbone (tibia) meets the thighbone (femur). Two ligaments - the posterior cruciate ligament (PCL) and the anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) - cross each other in the middle of the knee. They work together to keep the shinbone attached to the thighbone.

Two other ligaments run along either side of the knee. The lateral collateral ligament (LCL) runs along the outside and keeps the knee from bending out. The MCL is on the inside and keeps the knee from bending in.

When the knee suddenly bends inward with the foot bent outward, the MCL and other ligaments can tear, partially or all the way. These kinds of injuries can occur during collisions in football and soccer and during car accidents.

MCL Injuries in Children

MCL tears, while common in adults, are less common for children. But teenage athletes are more likely to injure their MCL than other teenagers. This is especially true if they play sports that put them at risk of colliding with other players from the side, such as football and ice hockey.

MCL injuries also sometimes happen in combination with ACL tears.

Older children are more likely to injure their MCL than children who are younger than age 12. Younger children more often break the bone where the ligament attaches.

MCL Injuries at Seattle Children's

We are expert at treating growing athletes. We have a team of doctors, physician assistants and physical therapists that works together to treat these injuries.