Lateral collateral
ligament (LCL)

What are the common symptoms of an LCL injury

You’ll feel pain on the outer part of the knee, towards the back, and your knee will be bruised and swollen. Sometimes a nerve on the outer part of the knee has become stretched.

What causes an LCL injury

Lateral collateral ligament injuries are quite rare and happen after stress to the knee from your leg being suddenly bent outwards. Your knee specialist  will talk to you about your injury and have a look at your knee. They will also examine your foot as the nerves going to that area can also be damaged. If you are seeing a doctor a while after the injury they will check whether it has become slightly unstable, as this can happen if the LCL is injured.

Your doctor will take an X-ray if they think the ligament may have been pulled from the fibula. If they think that your knee has sustained other injuries they will also arrange an MRI scan. If the nerve has been badly damaged, they might also arrange an electromyogram (EMG), which is a test to record the electrical activity of your muscles.

What are the best treatments for an LCL injury

If the injury is mild, then you will be advised to follow RICE – Rest, Ice, Compression and Elevation. For more severe injuries our orthotist can fit a brace to keep your knee stable.

If the ligament is completely torn then you will have to have an operation. A knee specialist surgeon can reattach the ligament and any fragment of bone that has come loose in the knee. Surgery can also help to explore any damage to the nerve. Following surgery you’ll have a course of physiotherapy to strengthen the knee.