MCL Knee Brace
The Medial Collateral Ligament also known as the MCL is the ligament within the knee joint that connect the thigh bone to the lower leg bone on the inside of the knee. It is one of the four major knee ligaments and its role is to resist valgus forces (forces pushing the knee inward). The other 3 major ligaments are the ACL, PCL, and ACL. Injury to the MCL is not the most common in the knee but can be very painful and limit future movement. For this reason some athlete is high risk sports wear a MCL knee brace for prevention of injury. If an athlete does suffer from a MCL injury then wearing a MCL brace afterwards is highly recommended.
Common Causes of a MCL Injury
MCL injuries are very common in contact sports and downhill skiing. Any sort of hit from the outside that forces the knee to move inward can damage the MCL. Activities that involve quick change of direction, twisting and bending can put the MCL at risk. Sports with a ton of stop and go movements, jumping and weaving are also dangerous. Common Sports for MCL Injury are:
Symptoms of a MCL Injury
Immediately upon injury an athlete will feel a lot of pain on the inside of the knee that will be present with or without weight bearing. After that the knee will begin the swell mostly on the inside of the knee as well. The affected area will be tender to touch and range of motion can be limited.
There are three grades of MCL ligament injury. Grade 1 is classified by a small or minor tear of the ligament. In this case the ligament has been stretched but is still able to do its function within the knee, mild pain and swelling would be present. A grade 2 sprain occurs when the stretch and partial tearing of the ligament leads to the MCL ligament becoming loose. This will make the area painful to touch and more swelling will be present. A grade 3 sprain is referred to as a complete tear of the ligament. The MCL is no longer doing its job of holding the thigh bone and lower leg bone together. With a grade 3 sprain it is very painful, tender to touch, and painful to walk.
There are two reasons to purchase a brace when considering your MCL: to protect it from injury or to help rehab it while returning to sport. MCL braces are not treated surgically so the best brace to use after an injury has occurred is a hinged knee brace. If the injury to the MCL is minor and you are looking for a brace that provides a lower level of support and is less expensive then you should be looking at the knee sleeves and braces with straps.
A hinged knee brace contains hinges designed to limit range of motion and prevent your knee from moving into a position that could injure the ligaments like hyperextension and bad alignment. These types of braces move with your body so they won’t limit your performance.
How does a MCL brace help?
Braces are built to do the work that an injured or weak ligament may not be able to do. A MCL brace will try and limit the amount of strain and force being placed on the MCL ligament. Some braces also contain a leverage system that takes stress off of the ligament. By taking the stress off a ligament and guiding the knee joint through a natural range of motion and limit movement that can be harmful.
Here is a review of some of the best MCL knee braces:
1. Shock Doctor Ultra Knee Support with Hinges
Shock Doctor is one of the leading manufacturers of sport therapy equipment. This hinged brace is designed for moderate to major ligament sprains, strains and knee instability. Along with the bilateral hinges the brace also has aluminum stays that increase the braces ability to protect, support and lead to increased performance. Built for long lasting comfort and protection you can go into any activity with confidence.
2. Bracoo Knee Support
This brace falls under the mild to moderate support level and would be best for someone who has suffered and grade 1 sprain. If you are suffering from knee pain and knee instability during exercise then this brace can help; it is very inexpensive and very popular. Designed to reinforce the patella as well as all ligaments in the knee to ensure the knee is moving through its natural range of motion and avoiding high risk positions. Great brace to help relieve pressure and pain in the knee.
3. McDavid Hinged Knee Stabilizer
This McDavid hinged knee brace provides maximum protection from MCL injuries. It contains dual hinges that prevent hyperextension and other risky positions in the knee. It is known for being durable during long activities and harsh conditions and yet still comfortable to wear. Padding and neoprene lining make it a great option for long periods of time.
4. DonJoy Reaction Web Brace
This brace may look a bit more intense than some of the other braces but DonJoy is an amazing producer of therapeutic knee braces. I would suggest this brace as a better brace for prevention; its webbed design absorbs shock and then dispenses it away from the knee. The webbing stabilizes the patella into regular tracking position and supports the surrounding ligaments. Padded webbing and mesh backing make it a lot more comfortable then it may look.
5. Mueller Hg80 Hinged Knee Brace
Great price for a quality hinged knee brace. The Mueller Hg80 hinged brace is made with a triaxial hinges system. This means that the hinges are there to support and protect the knee but also allow the natural bend and flex of your knee to be present, therefor not limiting your performance. Material is moisture wicking meaning you will stay cool and dry during sport.