The Lateral Collateral Ligament otherwise more commonly referred to as the LCL is the ligament found on the outside of the knee. This important ligament of the knee joins the end of the fibula, which is located on the outside of the tibia (shin bone), and the bottom outside surface of the femur (thigh bone). This ligament stabilizes the outside of the knee joint.
Common symptoms of an LCL stretch or tear include pain and swelling directly over the ligament. Bruising will often appear 1-2 days after the injury occurs. More serious tears or ruptures of the LCL ligament may also make the knee feel unstable or loose.
An injury to the Lateral Collateral Ligament occurs when there is a stretch, tear, or partial tear to the ligament. A blow to the inside of the knee during any number of contact sports will result in pressure being placed in the inside of the knee joint. This pressure pushing inwards on the knee joint results in stress being placed on the ligament on the outside of the knee joint. This stress causes the stretch or tear.
It is also possible that and injury to the LCL will occur in conjunction with injury to other ligaments in the knee such as the ACL (Anterior Cruciate Ligament) , MCL (Medial Cruciate Ligament) , or PCL (Posterior Cruciate Ligament).
Like most strains or tears to a ligament, immediate treatment of the LCL injury includes the application of cold or ice packs to the affected area, and elevation of the knee. It is also important to allow the injured knee to rest.
Hinged knee braces and physiotherapy are the most common treatments for injuries to the ligaments of the knee including the LCL.