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What is the Lateral Collateral Ligament?

Lateral collateral ligament (LCL) is a thin set of tissues present on the outer side of the knee, connecting the thighbone (femur) to the fibula (side bone of lower leg). It provides stability as well as limits the sidewise rotation of the knee. Tear or injury of LCL may cause instability of the knee that can be either reconstructed or repaired to regain the strength and movement of the knee. The knee is the largest joint of the body and is stabilized by a set of ligaments. In the knee, there are four primary ligaments viz. anterior cruciate ligament (ACL), posterior cruciate ligament (PCL), medial collateral ligament (MCL) and lateral collateral ligament.

Causes of LCL Injuries

Lateral collateral ligament may tear due to trauma, sports injuries, or a direct blow on the knee. Torn LCL may result in pain, swelling and even instability of the knee.

Diagnosis of LCL Injuries

LCL injuries and torn LCL can be diagnosed through a physical examination and by employing imaging techniques such as X-rays or MRI scan.

Treatment of LCL Injuries

The treatment of the torn LCL includes non-surgical interventions such as rest, ice, elevation, bracing and physical therapy to help reduce swelling, and regain activity as well as strength and flexibility of the knee. Surgery is recommended if non-surgical interventions fail to provide much relief. Surgical interventions include repair and reconstruction of the torn ligament. Based on the severity and location of the injury, repair or reconstruction of the LCL is recommended. In case the ligament is torn from the upper or lower ends of attachment, then repair of the LCL is done with sutures or staples. If the ligament is torn in the middle or if the injury is older than 3 weeks, LCL reconstruction is recommended.