Lateral collateral ligament (LCL) injuries

What cause an LCL injury?

LCL injuries normally occur when the knee is forced into an excessive ‘bow-legged’ position. This may happen when the inside of the knee is struck or when the foot is fixed and the knee is forced out sideways. Although LCL injuries are less common than MCL injuries, the complex anatomy of the outside of the knee means that if you damage your LCL, you are likely to damage other structures in the knee as well.

What are the symptoms?

  • An injury can cause sharp pain on the outside of the knee along with swelling
  • The knee may also begin to feel wobbly – as if it could give way

How is it diagnosed?

A diagnosis made during a medical examination can be backed up with X-rays and an MRI scan to show the extent of the damage.

How is it treated?

Treatment of the knee will usually include wearing a knee brace and having physiotherapy, but you may need to have surgery if other structures in the joint are damaged too. In acute (sudden, severe) cases this would be a ligament suture or reinsertion, and in chronic (long term) cases might involve ligament reconstruction.

Important: This information is only a guideline to help you understand your treatment and what to expect. Everyone is different and your rehabilitation may be quicker or slower than other people’s. Please contact us for advice if you’re worried about any aspect of your health or recovery.

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