How long does it take an MCL injury to heal?

Many people want to return from injury as quickly as possible to play sports or to exercise. On the other hand, many patients are simply concerned about when they can do their normal activities. In this Ask Dr. Geier video, I address that concern regarding an MCL injury of the knee.

Bhavesh asks:

I suffered an MCL injury while doing squats. It has been 2 weeks, and the pain is less compared to the first day of injury. How many days will it take to heal so I can just walk and do my work? I apply an ice pack 3 times a day and rest and do some normal exercise. Is that OK?

The MCL is the medial collateral ligament. It is a thick, strong ligament along the inside, or medial side, of the knee that protects against side-to-side stress. You can injure it cutting to change directions while running or when someone hits you on the outside of the knee.

Also read:
MCL injuries of the knee: Injury, diagnosis, treatment

Treatment of an MCL injury

MCL injuries almost always heal without surgery. Your orthopedic surgeon might put you in a hinged knee brace to allow you to regain knee motion while protecting the ligament as it heals.

Also read:
Do you need a knee brace for an MCL injury?

Soccer player suffers MCL injury in his knee

Time for an MCL tear to heal

How long it takes the MCL to heal depends on the severity of the injury. These injuries are graded 1, 2 and 3 which roughly corresponds to mild, medium and severe. Grade 1 injuries often heal in 1 to 2 weeks. Grade 2 MCL injuries often take 2 to 4 weeks, and grade 3 injuries can take 4 to 6 weeks or more.

In this video, I discuss the timeline of healing for an MCL tear based on severity and location on the injury. I also discuss return to daily activities like walking as well as return to exercise and training for sports.