Lateral Collateral Ligament (LCL) is one of the major ligaments of the knee joint. It is present on the outer aspect of the knee and connects the thighbone or to the leg bone, adding to stability of the knee. LCL can get injured by a contact injury like a hit or a blow during a physical activity or an accident, or it may suffer from a non-contact injury like over extension and over stress.
Lateral Collateral Ligament (LCL) Tear
Lateral Supporting structures of the knee including Lateral Collateral Ligament (arrow)
Examination of the knee by the specialist usually makes the diagnosis obvious. X-ray of the knee is taken to rule out any underlying bony injury. Further a MRI scanning is mandatory to know the extent of injury including the involvement of other ligament structures.
Like any other knee injury the type of treatment for a LCL tear will depend on the severity of the injury. The basic treatment for non complex injury includes:
MRI scan showing LCL tear
LCL Reconstruction surgery using patients own ligament tissue (graft)
In case of minor injury, 3 to 6 weeks of rest and protective bracing is advised to the patient. Following which the patient is taken through a graded physical therapy program, to bring back the normal movement of the knee and to get the original strength on the muscles around the knee.
For complex injuries surgery in the form of ligament repair or reconstruction might be necessary. Generally in the complex scenario the LCL tear affects the other ligaments as well. Hence treatment is planned case by case basis depending on the injury pattern. Grafts are taken from patients own tissue and are reconstructed. After a period of rest and physiotherapy, patient will be able to lead a normal active life.
Authored By Dr. Raj Kanna - Orthopaedic and Knee surgeon, Chennai