MCL/LCL Knee Ligament Strain

What is it?

Bones are connected to other bones by ligaments. They act like strong ropes to hold the bones together and keep your knee stable. There are four primary ligaments in your knee.


About half of all injuries to the anterior cruciate ligament occur along with damage to other structures in the knee, such as articular cartilage, meniscus, or other ligaments. Injured ligaments are considered "sprains" and are graded on a severity scale.

The MCL is injured more often than the LCL. Due to the more complex anatomy of the outside of the knee, if you injure your LCL, you usually injure other structures in the joint, as well.

Mechanism of Injury

The anterior cruciate ligament can be injured in several ways:


When you injure your anterior cruciate ligament, you might hear a "popping" noise and you may feel your knee give out from under you. Other typical symptoms include:

Common Management Techniques

Nonsurgical Treatment

Surgical Treatment



Once your range of motion returns and you can walk without a limp, your physio may allow functional progression. This is a gradual, progressive return to sports activities. For example, if you play soccer, your functional progression may start as a light jog. Then you progress to a sprint, and eventually to full running and kicking the ball. Your doctor may suggest a knee brace during sports activities, depending on the severity of your sprain. There will be several stages to your recovery with your treatment being progressive in nature and closely monitored by your Physiotherapist.