The Difference Between ACL and MCL Tears

knee ligamentsTo find out that one has an ACL or an MCL tear is truly devastating news to receive. With an ACL or MCL tear, an athlete can expect to sit on the sidelines for months, or possibly longer, depending on the severity of the injury. Although these injuries are both a tear to the ligament, they have their own differences.

What is an ACL Tear?

The ACL is one of the four ligaments found in the knee. Its main functions are to steady the knee, keep the knee from turning too much, and preventing the tibia from overextending itself.

When a person injuries their ACL, it is normally because of a sudden twist of the knee or a dislocation.

When the ACL is torn, the patient will hear a shrill “popping”-type sound from the knee. Soon after, inflammation and swelling will start to show. During this time, the patient will feel extreme pain around the knee. It is advisable to see an orthopedist immediately, so that a clear diagnosis can be made and the necessary treatment can be started.

What is an MCL Tear?

An MCL or medial collateral ligament is located in the knee’s inner region and works on resisting the widening of the knee joint. In most cases, an MCL tear happens during rigorous sports activities, such as soccer and football. Injuries to the MCL occur as a result of a strong force hitting the outside of the knee that causes the MCL to stretch or tear.

How to tell the difference

It can be easy to confuse the two injuries, as both a torn ACL and a torn MCL exhibit similar symptoms, including:

  • Swelling
  • Inflammation
  • Extreme Pain
  • Possible Bruising

The main difference between an ACL tear and an MCL tear is that an ACL tear will have a distinctive popping sound, while an MCL tear will not.

Treatment for ACL and MCL Tears

MCL tears are typically easier to recover from than ACL tears. With an MCL tear, the recovery process may take up to eight weeks or more with rehabilitation. On the other hand, an ACL tear will most likely require surgery and at least six months of rehabilitation or more.

ACL and MCL Treatment at HROSM Orthopedics
A torn ACL or MCL is a serious injury that should be assessed and treated by a professional. At HROSM our team of knowledgeable and experienced orthopedic and sports medicine physicians can diagnose your knee injury and provide the appropriate treatment. Schedule an appointment today.

2016-10-12T13:29:16+00:00September 15th, 2015|Blog, Sports Medicine|