ACL vs. MCL Injury, What’s The Difference?

ACL tear Your knees are an essential part of your body and have lots of tendons and connective tissue. This is necessary because of how often our knees are used in our daily lives. From walking, going up some stairs, sitting down, standing up, and so much more. That’s why receiving an injury like an MCL or ACL tear can be intimidating. However, the number of tendons and ligaments can lead to some confusion when you’re injured. Let’s explore the difference between an ACL and MCL injury so you can better understand what treatment is right for you.


The ACL, also known as the anterior cruciate ligament, is a connective ligament that attaches the femur and the tibia together. The ACL is essential to keeping the shinbone in place and from shifting forward and collapsing the knee. ACL tears or injuries are most common from sudden shifts in weight and pressure on the knee.

This can happen from suddenly stopping, shifting direction, or from physical trauma. The sudden movement may be too much pressure to bear for the ligament, and it may tear or snap. Weight-bearing is usually impossible when this occurs.


The MCL, also known as the medial collateral ligament, is another crucial component of your knee’s connective tissues. This ligament is attached to the kneecap and prevents it from bending inward more than needed. This brings overall stability to the knee and kneecap and allows the knee to rotate.

MCL injuries or tears are almost always caused by direct physical trauma or impact. That’s because the MCL can become damaged by the knee bending too far inward. The MCL will attempt to hold the knee in place and correct the sudden movement but will likely damage itself or tear in the process.

Recovery and Treatment

The difference between recovery and treatment is actually small. The primary difference is going to be if your ACL or MCL requires surgery because the surgical repair process will be different. However, the healing process, symptoms, and pain will likely be similar. Thankfully, our team at Orthopedic Associates of Long Island can offer treatment options to get you back to your active lifestyle. We understand a knee injury can be intimidating. That’s why our team of doctors will inform you of your treatment options and walk you through the entire process. If you have recently injured your ACL or MCL, then contact the Orthopedic Associates of Long Island at 631-689-6698 today.

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