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Lateral Collateral Ligament (LCL) Injury

  • What is Lateral Collateral Ligament (LCL) Injury?

    The Lateral Collateral Ligament is the main supporting ligament on the outside of the knee. The ligament provides stability to the joint when the knee is pushed outward. A Lateral Collateral Ligament Injury involves 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
  • A Lateral Collateral Ligament Injury is usually caused by force to the inside of the knee. This most often happens while playing sports, but can also be caused by overuse of the joint or by a fall if the person is elderly.

  • Symptoms 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
  • Treatment is likely to 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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