Lateral Collateral Ligament (LCL) Injury

A lateral collateral ligament injury, or LCL injury, is a stretching or tearing of the ligament on the outer side of your knee which connects the femur to the fibula. When the LCL is torn or sprained, it can cause instability and pain in the knee.

What You Need To Know About an LCL Injury

What Is an LCL Injury?

An LCL tear can be a painful and debilitating injury. When working properly, the LCL, or lateral collateral ligament, connects the femur (thighbone) and the fibula (lower leg bone). This anatomy aligns and stabilizes the upper and lower leg. The LCL also prevents excessive side-to-side motions in the knee joint.

LCL sprains can cause your knee joint to be unstable, weak, and painful. If you're struggling with LCL pain, get moving again by booking an appointment with a Resurgens Orthopaedic expert.

What Causes an LCL Injury?

An LCL injury occurs when the knee is contorted sideways toward the outer side of the body. Direct trauma to the inner side of the leg is a common cause of the injury. Movements like pivoting, hyperextending, squatting, or landing awkwardly on the knee can cause LCL tears. This makes it a common injury among athletes or people who live active lifestyles.

While LCL tears are often a result of direct trauma, they can also be caused by conditions like knee osteoarthritis. The LCL may weaken, leaving you vulnerable to slips and falls. Age-related wear and tear can also be a risk factor for an LCL injury.

LCL Injury Symptoms

LCL injury symptoms can be debilitating and make it difficult to fulfill your daily activities. When the LCL injury occurs, you may feel a popping or tearing in the outer side of your knee, causing pain, instability, and weakness in the knee. Some LCL tear symptoms may include:

  • Swelling

  • Tenderness

  • Limited range of motion

  • Numbness

  • Bruising

  • Stiffness

How Is an LCL Injury Diagnosed?

In order to diagnose an LCL tear, your Resurgens knee physician will first ask you about your medical history and how the condition started. Then, they will do a brief physical examination on your knee to test your range of motion and pain levels. This exam is short and only causes slight discomfort.

After the physical exam, your doctor will likely order diagnostic imaging to rule out other potential conditions. Once your doctor has this data, they will make a diagnosis and recommend a treatment plan to get you moving again.

LCL Injury Treatment

No two injuries are the same, and LCL injury treatment depends on your specific condition. Depending on the severity of our LCL injury, we offer non-surgical and surgical treatment options for your recovery.

Non-Surgical Treatment

For mild to moderate LCL sprains or tears, non-surgical treatment can be very effective. Some non-surgical LCL injury treatments include:

  • Rest

  • Ice

  • Over-the-counter anti-inflammatories

  • Physical therapy

  • Compression

  • Corticosteroid injections

Surgical Treatment

While the majority of LCL injuries can be treated with non-surgical methods, severe cases may require surgical intervention. If the LCL is fully torn, a knee surgeon can perform an open-knee procedure to stitch the torn LCL or reattach it to the bone where it tore.

Your doctor will talk with you before your surgery and help determine the most appropriate treatment for your condition. Book an appointment with a Resurgens knee physician today!

Virtual After-Hours Access

Resurgens Orthopaedics has partnered with the HURT! app to offer FREE virtual after-hours access to orthopedic specialists right when you need it.

Download the app to receive immediate guidance on your injury.