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Lateral collateral ligament (LCL) injury

  • Alternative Names

    LCL injury; Knee injury - lateral collateral ligament (LCL)

    First Aid

    A lateral collateral ligament test may reveal looseness in the ligament. This involves bending the knee to 25 degrees and placing pressure on the inside surface of the knee.

    Other tests may include:

    • Knee joint x-rays
    • Knee MRI

    Treatment includes:

    • Applying ice to the area
    • Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs)
    • Raising the knee above heart level

    You should limit physical activity until the pain and swelling go away. The doctor may put you on crtuches and in a brace to protect the ligament. You may also be told not to put any weight on your knee when you walk.

    After a period of keeping the knee still, you should do exercises to strengthen and stretch the knee. Physical therapy may help you regain knee and leg strength.

    Surgery is often not needed when only the LCL has been torn. However, this ligament is often injured during significant trauma, including knee dislocations.

    It is common for injuries to the LCL to occur with other ligament injuries. These are usually significant injuries, and you should seek medical help immediately. When injuries to other ligaments also occur, surgery is needed to prevent future instability of the knee.

    Do Not

    Call immediately for emergency medical assistance if

    Call your health care provider if:

    • You injure your knee and have symptoms of LCL injury (injury to the LCL is often a serious knee injury, which can include many knee ligaments and injuries to the nerves and blood vessels)
    • You are being treated for an LCL injury and you notice increased instability in your knee, pain or swelling return after they subsided, or your injury does not go away with time
    • You re-injure your knee