LCL Sprain

The LCL is the Lateral Collateral Ligament which is located in the knee joint. The LCL runs along the outside of the knee joint from the outside of the bottom of the thighbone (femur) to the top of the lower leg (fibula)

LCL Sprain Symptoms

  • LCL Sprain Grade 1
  • Tenderness on the outside of the knee
  • Usually little to no swelling
  • When knee is bent to 30-degree angle and force applied to the inside of the knee, there is pain felt; however, there is no joint laxity
  • LCL Sprain Grade 2
  • Significant tenderness on the outside of the knee
  • Some swelling
  • When knee is bent to a 30-degree angle and force applied to inside of knee, there is pain and some laxity
  • Definite end point when pushing knee sideways, indicating the ligament is still intact
  • LCL Sprain Grade 3
  • Complete tear of the ligament
  • Pain can be worse of not as severe as a grade 2 sprain
  • When placing the knee under stress, there is significant joint laxity
  • Patient may complain about “unstable knee”

LCL Sprain Treatment

  • LCL Sprain Grade 1
  • LCL Sprain Grade 2
  • Immediate
  • Stop competition or whatever activity was that caused the injury
  • Apply cold therapy or Super Cool Therapeutic Knee Wrap
  • Wear knee brace to support and protect ligament
  • Perform pain-free stretches for hamstrings quads and calf muscles 
  • After 2-3 weeks
  • After 3-6 weeks
  • Continue with cold therapy or Super Cool Knee Wrap
  • Cross friction massage 2-3 times per week
  • Strengthening exercises
  • LCL Sprain Grade 3
  • Wear a brace that allows forward and backward movement and restricts side to side movement
  • Wear this brace for three days; if pain and swelling start to decrease, you may be able to start rehab
  • Usually, takes eight weeks to recover
  • May require surgery
  • If the tear happened in the middle of the ligament, the surgeon will sew the torn ends together
  • If the damage was severe and cannot be repaired, surgeon will reconstruct tendon by using a graft taken from your thigh muscle (quadricep) or hamstrings
  • If the LCL was torn where it attaches to the bone, the surgeon will reattach the ligament to the bone using large stitches or metal bone staple

Testing for LCL injury

  • Various stress testing of the LCL
  • The patient is in the supine position with the knee flexed to 20-25 degrees. The examiner places one hand on the medial knee and grasps the lateral ankle with the other hand. The knee is adducted. Pain and too much laxity indicate an injury to LCL.
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