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Author Topic: ACL or MCL tear?  (Read 6821 times)

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Offline rdgirl

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ACL or MCL tear?
« on: July 07, 2011, 03:52:44 AM »
Hello knee friends,
  I was at roller derby practice when I fell into a knock-kneed position. I heard a pop and had extreme pain. I was able to stand on it and walk with a straight leg, but it still hurt alot. There was not alot of swelling on my knee at all.  I went to the ER and the doc told me it was a simple sprain. I then went to my follow up appointment where the doc told me it is either an ACL or MCL tear and I would have to wait two weeks to find out. Most of my pain is on the inside of my knee. I am able to stand on my knee and bend it, if I try to turn it there is pain. I wanted to know if there is a way to differentiate between an ACL and MCL tear. If my ACL was torn would I be able to bend my knee? Would there be pain in the middle of my knee instead of on the side? I would really appreciate your opinions and advice. Thank You! ???  :-[

Offline Fathead D

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Re: ACL or MCL tear?
« Reply #1 on: July 07, 2011, 12:07:46 PM »
Hey RDGirl,


You can still bend your knee with an MCL and ACL injury.  You won't be very stable but you can still function.  My guess is that you will be getting an MRI when the swelling goes down and that is what your Dr was refering too when he said you would find out in 2 weeks.

Good luck and let us know how it goes.
11/29/2010 Lateral Release left knee
1/2011 Cortizone injection left knee
4/1/2011 Lateral Release right knee
5-6/2011 Supartz injection series (5)
12/12/2011 TTT and Lateral Release repair left knee

Offline mollyc

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Re: ACL or MCL tear?
« Reply #2 on: July 07, 2011, 07:15:28 PM »
HI there: The other possibility, of course, is that it's both. This is very common for twisting injuries such as the one you describe. I completely ruptured my ACL and had a grade 1 tear of my MCL. After the initial injury (which was excruciating), I had very little pain in the middle of my knee. This was, in part, cause the ACL was gone. Nothing more to hurt! But, I had a lot of pain in my MCL region. MCLs tend to heal on their own, taking upwards of 6 weeks. And, as predicted, the MCL pain went away after that time.

The other thing that happens is that if your ACL snaps, especially I imagine in the knock kneed position you describe, the force of it causes the top outside of your tibia to knock into the bottom inside of your femur at great force. This causes bone bruising, which is also very painful and takes a long time to heal.

However, I think it's probably pretty difficult to tell what's going on just by the pain pattern. You probably need an MRI to know for sure. Good luck to you. And, in the meantime, take mega doses of ibuprofen or (my favorite) naproxen, ice for 20 minutes every two hours (front and back of knee) and elevate. This will help relieve the swelling and pain.
Ski accident 2/14/09
Ruptured ACL, MCL sprain, bone bruise
ACLr allograft 5/27/09
Knee now 100% fine...skiing and playing tennis regularly

Offline rdgirl

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Re: ACL or MCL tear?
« Reply #3 on: July 08, 2011, 05:14:35 AM »
Fathead and Mollyc- Thank You Guys!! I am waiting for an appointment with ortho. Apparently my doc thought it would be a good idea to send me to phys. therapy first. I do not know how they are going to rehab me when they are not even sure what my diagnosis is. So while waiting I have been getting impatient and worried. Mollyc- I read your stats and I am glad you are back to your normal activities! How long did it take? Did you use your own ligament or a cadaver?

Offline rdgirl

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Re: ACL or MCL tear?
« Reply #4 on: July 08, 2011, 05:19:09 AM »
Also, my doc was vauge. While I am waiting for my phys. therapy appt., which is two weeks away, should I be walking on my knee or not?

Offline mollyc

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Re: ACL or MCL tear?
« Reply #5 on: July 09, 2011, 05:59:08 PM »
HI RDgirl: The reason they are sending you to PT is probably to help you regain extension and range of motion (if you've lost it) and maintain your leg muscle, within the bounds of what's possible given your injury. If it is your ACL and you need surgery, you will engage in "prehab," where you get yourself in shape to undergo the surgery. The stronger you are, the better range of motion you have going into the surgery, the better you will do after surgery with rehab. My surgeon would not do the ACL recon until swelling went down, I had full extension, I regained range of motion to at least 90 degrees (I ended up having more than that), and I regained some of lost muscle mass in quads. This is typical. A physical therapist will help you achieve these goals without injuring yourself further! If it's your MCL, you still need these things, although you won't need surgery. So, a PT will come in handy regardless.

On the walking, see if you can get in touch with your doctor on this one. There are different ideas about this. Some folks think you should not be walking unless you can walk without a limp because you can injure other things (your hip, for example). Others think it's good to bear weight if you can without too much pain because walking on it keeps you from losing so much muscle mass. So, check with your doc on this. If you are limping, the PT can help you with that as well.

You asked about how long it took me. I think my progress was on the slow slide, relative to others on the board. Rehab and recovery varies a lot according to the severity of your injury, your baseline fitness going in, your surgeon's rehab protocol, and your age. I had my ski accident in February and was really incapacitated. I couldn't do anything for about 6 weeks except sit on my couch and do quad sets and leg lifts. I then prehabbed like a demon before my surgery at the end of May. But, as a result, I was not super strong going into surgery. Then, I had a surgeon with a very conservative rehab protocol which kept me non-weight bearing on crutches for 4 weeks. (This is quite unusual, unless you also have meniscus damage.) When I was allowed to bear weight, I had like zero calf and quad muscle left, so it took a long time to rebuild them. I was walking around and living my life fine after about 2 months, but wasn't fully functional for sport until 6 months or more. I returned to tennis at about 10 months. I was also 41 when I had my injury, and, as much as I hate to admit this, it is harder to bounce back as you get older. Again, others on the board have made much quicker progress than me. Ultimately, though, a month here or there doesn't matter much in the long run. You want to take the time you need to get yourself in good shape so that you don't re-injure yourself.
Ski accident 2/14/09
Ruptured ACL, MCL sprain, bone bruise
ACLr allograft 5/27/09
Knee now 100% fine...skiing and playing tennis regularly