The medial collateral ligament — which is the ligament that runs along the inside of your knee, connecting your tibia and femur — can stretch and tear as the result of an impact or direct hit. Usually, if the tear is pretty minor, it will heal on its own, but if it is more serious or does not heal on its own within a few weeks, your doctor will probably recommend you see an orthopedic surgeon. If you're in this situation right now, you're probably thinking, "what now?" Well, here's a look at how MCL surgery typically goes.
MCL surgery is usually done under a regional anesthetic.
If you are worried about being put under general anesthesia, don't be. In most cases, MCL surgery is performed with just a regional anesthetic, which means the doctor will just numb your leg, or in some cases, your entire body from the waist down. You'll stay awake during the procedure. If the idea of being awake during surgery makes you feel anxious, even though you know you won't feel anything, then your doctor can give you a sedative, too. You'll be groggy and happy, but still awake. This approach is a lot safer than general anesthesia, and you won't need to fast beforehand.
MCL surgery is usually done arthroscopically.
The reason the surgery can now be done with a regional anesthetic is that the incisions are so small. MCL repairs can be done arthroscopically, which means they're done with small instruments inserted through small incisions. This leads to a lot less blood loss and a much lower risk of infection than are associated with open surgery. Because the procedure is done arthroscopically, you will usually be able to go home the same day.
MCL surgery involves stitching the ligament back together.
Sometimes the surgeon may just need to put a few stitches in to put the ligament back together where it has torn. In the coming months, it will heal as the stitches dissolve. With more serious tears, the surgeon may remove a tiny amount of tendon tissue from elsewhere in the knee and use it to repair the ligament. If this approach is needed, it will take you a little longer to heal since you tendon will also be healing.
So those are the basics of MCL surgery! After the procedure, you'll go home and start recovery, which lasts a few months and is not as painful as many patients assume. If you have any concerns in this way, just ask your surgeon. They can give you some more specific advice because they know the severity of your MCL injuries. Learn more about knee surgery today.