Burning knee pain

Knee injuries: Can I bike with a partly torn MCL?

Fact Checked

A partly torn MCL or medial collateral ligament is an injury to one of the ligaments that support the knee joint. Remember that this is a serious injury that must be correctly treated. Once the individual feels strong enough, he/she can start biking to help regain flexibility in the knee without triggering any further damage.

Close look on a torn MCL

The MCL is one of the 4 ligaments in the knee joint responsible for stabilizing the joint and connecting the leg bones. The ligament travels throughout the interior part of the knee, connecting the femur to the tibia.

The ligament is also responsible for preventing excessive extension of the leg inwards. A torn MCL can also occur if there is too much pressure placed on the exterior of the knee.

A partly torn MCL simply means that only a region of the ligament is torn as opposed to a full tear where the ligament is broken in two. Once a tear develops, there is swelling in the knee, tenderness and pain as well as inability to apply pressure on the knee joint.

What are the grades of injury?

A torn MCL can be categorized into 3 grades or groups – 1 to 3 with 3 as the most severe. The ability of the individual to resume or start an exercise routine depends on the severity of the tear.

Partly torn MCL
Once a tear develops, there is swelling in the knee, tenderness and pain as well as inability to apply pressure on the knee joint.
  • A grade 1 tear involves minor pain and some tenderness at the site of injury.
  • A grade 2 tear involves evident slackness in the knee joint, swelling and major pain.
  • A grade 3 tear is characterized by inability to completely open the knee joint along with evident tenderness and pain.

Management for a partly torn MCL

The treatment for a partly torn MCL varies depending on the severity of the injury. These injuries typically respond well to non-surgical measures. In such cases, the individual should rest, wear a knee brace for a few days and take over-the-counter pain medications.

In case a tear is severe, surgery might be needed. The procedure involves a small-sized incision made on the side of the knee joint and then the ligaments are sewn back together.

Can I still bike?

Biking is a good form of exercise to start rehabilitating the affected knee joint. The individual can gain strength but does not require side-to-side leg movement that can damage the knee.

The individual can start on a stationary bike to reduce the pressure placed on the knee joint. This must be done for at least 20-30 minutes every day. During the initial 3-6 weeks after the injury, a knee brace must be worn. This will help prevent side-to-side movement but enables the individual to move forward and backward.

Considerations to bear in mind

It is vital to carefully follow the instructions given by the doctor when dealing with a partly torn MCL. Getting enough rest is vital as well as increasing physical activity in a gradual manner.

If the individual has difficulty in pedaling a full revolution, he/she can place the affected leg on the pedal and then pedal back and forth until a full cycle can be completed.

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