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Why Tom Brady’s MCL Surgery Took Many by Surprise  

Why Tom Brady’s MCL Surgery Took Many by Surprise   1024 683 Taiwo Adeshigbin

Brady’s MCL came as a surprise for many. He played through the entire 2020-21 season with Tampa Bay Buccaneers; he won a championship and then had surgery.  

 

According to Tampa Bay Times, Brady’s initial injury occurred during his final season with the New England Patriots. After winning the Super Bowl LV with the Buccaneers, Brady repaired the MCL in February.  

 

The MCL injury is common in football, given the physicality of the sport, and many athletes may play through it, using a brace as needed.  

 

“Often, they can play through partial tears but not so much when it comes to complete tears”, said Dr. Leah Brown, an orthopedic surgeon specializing in sports medicine knee injuries. 

 

An MCL injury typically results from a direct blow to the outer part of the knee while the foot is planted on the ground.  

 

No one knows how and when Brady injured his MCL, but it was an injury that lingered for quite a while to ultimately require surgery.  

 

Dr. Brown said Brady’s timeline to return is dependent on the type of MCL surgery. At times surgeons will repair the native MCL or use additional graft if the native ligament doesn’t have good strength. Brady’s surgery details remain unknown. 

 

But an MCL surgery can take many months to return, Dr. Brown said. Full recovery can be anywhere from 6 – 9 months. 

 

The MCL acts as a knee stabilizer, with a primary role to protect against medial joint knee gapping. Since the MCL lies outside of the knee joint (an area with a rich blood supply), it can typically heal without surgery. The injury location is another determining factor for one’s healing rate. MCL injuries higher up along the thigh usually heal faster than ones further down in the lower leg. 

 

As most won’t require surgery, here’s the general timeline for isolated MCL injuries: (Grade 1 (2-3 weeks), Grade 2 (3-4 weeks), and Grade 3 (4-6 weeks). 

 

On the rare occasions surgery is required is for a Grade 3 tear injury that failed conservative treatment, a tear at the MCL lower site off its attachment or an avulsion fracture. 

 

The variables that impact one’s outcome could be mild to a severe, career ending injury. Tom Brady, seven-time Super Bowl champion, will make a good return, Dr. Brown said.  

 

September marks the start of the NFL season, putting Tom Brady about seven months out since surgery.  

 

“I feel like there’s something I’ll be able to do this year that I wasn’t able to do last year,” Brady told Tampa Bay Times. 

 

Brady, 43, will be 44 in August can now focus on football and not nursing a nagging injury, so he could very well return even better. 

 

For an MCL injury that persists for longer than six weeks, be sure to follow up with a doctor to prevent any additional knee issues.