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MCL Tears and Sports Injuries

MCL Tears and Sports Injuries

MCL Tears, Sports Injuries and Xu Duan


The medial collateral ligament (MCL) runs on the inside of the knee, responsible for connecting the tibial and femur. It provides lateral stability when the knee joint is in motion, so when MCL injuries occur, it can compromise the knee’s ability to function.

MCL injuries are common in contact sports, where any impact that drives the knee inward can result in a strain or tear. Depending on the injury’s severity, an MCL tear can sideline an athlete or anyone else for months before full strength is restored.

There are treatment options – western and eastern – that can help restore knee function and prevent future MCL injuries by supporting better overall health.

Symptoms and Treatment for MCL Injuries

MCL tears frequently produce a “pop” that you may hear when the injury occurs. The patient will certainly feel the pop, and it’s common for ongoing pain (moderate to severe) to emerge shortly after the injury. The knee may also be tender. Knee instability is also common in MCL injuries, and with severe injuries, it may be impossible to walk.

MCL grade 1 and 2 tears are incomplete tears that can typically be managed with rest, medication, bracing and physical therapy. Grade 3 tears are considered full tears and may require surgery if there is additional knee damage, such as an avulsion fracture.

How Chinese Medicine Treats MCL Tears and Sports Injuries

Chinese medicine practitioners link ligament health to liver and kidney function. In Chinese medicine, the body is represented as an interconnected system, with organs influencing the function of distal bodily structure. According to practitioners, the kidneys and liver play an important role in musculoskeletal health, including ligament and MCL health.

If an athlete deals with regular musculoskeletal injuries, a Chinese medicine practitioner will likely ascribe part of the problem to organ weakness. In the case of MCL injuries, it’s the liver and kidneys that need support.

One way that Chinese medicine experts boost liver and kidney health is through herbal therapies. Xu Duan is a classic herb for this purpose and translates to “reconnect what is broken” – a reference to the musculoskeletal system. It works by strengthening the liver and kidneys’ essential life energies – Yang energy in this case – and by improving circulation. Both western and eastern physicians recognize that improved blood flow can also improve healing, and Xu Duan is a proven circulatory aid.

As with all Chinese herbal formulations, it’s critical that patients consult with an experienced Houston practitioner before taking the herb. Proper dosing is essential to maximizing efficacy while minimizing any risks.

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