Lateral Collateral Ligament (LCL) Injury | Gleneagles Hospital

Lateral Collateral Ligament (LCL) Injury


What is Lateral Collateral Ligament (LCL) Injury?

The main supporting ligament outside of the knee is called the Lateral Collateral Ligament and provides stability to the joint when the knee is pushed outward. A Lateral Collateral Ligament Injury involves any stretching or tearing of this ligament.

There are 3 degrees of Lateral Collateral Ligament Injury:

- First-Degree Injury — Mild stretching of the ligament with no looseness

- Second-Degree Injury — Partial tear of the ligament

- Third-Degree Injury — The ligament is completely torn and the joint is unstable

LCL injuries are more commonly caused by any excessive force the the inside of the knee and most often happens in those who play sports. However, this condition can also be caused by the overuse of the joint or by a fall in elderly individuals.

The symptoms of LCL injuries are pretty straightforward and include:

- Discomfort on the outside of the knee when tension is applied

- Pain and swelling on the outside of the knee

- Tenderness when the area over the affected ligament is touched

- Weakness of the knee


Depending on the degree of severity of the injury, treatment may include:

- A brace for a few days to immobilise the knee

- Crutches, which may be helpful until movement and strength in the joint have improved

- Knee exercises to regain flexibility in the joint and strength in the thigh muscle; physiotherapy may be useful

- Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs to relieve pain

- Rest, ice, compression with an ace bandage and elevation of the leg (RICE)

- Surgery may be needed if the injury is severe, for example if the ligament has been torn and the knee is unstable.

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