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ACL, MCL, PCL, LCL- What Do These Letters Stand For?

These letters represent 4 ligaments that make up the knee joint. While there are several smaller ligaments within the knee, these are the 4 main ones that people often injure, especially athletes.

ACL: Anterior Cruciate Ligament

PCL: Posterior Cruciate Ligament

MCL: Medial Collateral Ligament

LCL: Lateral Collateral Ligament

When you injure a ligament, it is usually from a traumatic event such as landing improperly, an abnormal force, and/or a collision. Most will experience pain immediately, followed by severe difficulty putting weight through the joint. Some might hear a pop or snap during the injury and feel like the joint is very loose or unstable.

Often times, the joint is immobilized and they send you for an x-ray to rule out a fracture. Then they will send you for an MRI to confirm the ligament tear.

Depending on the severity of the tear will determine whether or not you need surgery. I personally sprained my MCL during high school soccer (any sprain is technically a tear). I was on crutches for about a week and was unable to participate in sports for about two and half months while I rehabbed. Then I was given a knee brace to play in for the remaining basketball season. I fortunately did not need surgery.

If you've torn one of these ligaments before, and still don't feel like you trust your knee 100%, reach out to me at 631-317-1222 or email


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