The LCL or lateral collateral ligament is also one of the important ligaments of the knee. To be precise, the lateral collateral ligament runs from the femur to the fibula giving support to the knee. But it may happen many a times that you hurt your LCL and there occur a partial or complete tear in it. According to a study, if you are to name one of the most commonly injured ligament of the knee, then LCL is one of them.
What are the causes of an LCL Tear?
An LCL tear can result due to a number of reasons some of which are mentioned below:
An injury to the lateral collateral ligament of the knee can be caused by a varus stress, lateral rotation of the knee when weight-bearing or when the LCL loses it’s elasticity caused by repeated stress .The LCL can be sprained (grade I), partially ruptured (grade II) or completely ruptured (grade III) . Additional damage of the ACL, PCL and medial knee structures is possible when the lateral knee structures are injured
The most common reason behind an LCL tear is when you get a direct blow on your knee, especially in the region which is closer to the other knee (inner side of the knee). This results in an over stretching of the LCL which ultimately leads it to break or tear away.
Knee dislocations are often associated with a tear in the LCL.
What are the symptoms of an LCL Tear?
The symptoms encountered by patients in an LCL tear are as follows:
A certain tenderness and pain is felt on the portion outside the knee.
Some people even face difficulty in walking and often limp unless given a crutch. People often feel that their knee has become locked.
The knee will appear to be stiff due to the injury and also swollen in some regions.
How is an LCL tear diagnosed?
The first step towards the correct diagnosis of an LCL injury includes a proper examination. You first have to be sure that it is your LCL that has torn.
The doctor will also assess your pain by moving your leg in various directions and seeing where it pains the most.
When the doctor senses or doubts that you might have a torn ligament, he gives the orders for an immediate X-ray or MRI scans. With the help of these tests, you will become sure of your injury.
How is an LCL tear treated?
The various steps that can be taken in case of an LCL tear are as follows:
If you have a minor injury, then the first thing that you must do is apply some ice over the area. This will ease off the pain and the swelling to some extent.
Your doctor will also advise you for splinting if the injury is not so grave.
You can also take a pain reliever under the advice of your doctor to get some relief from the excruciating pain.
After recommended period of bracing, Physical therapy is always recommended to gain back the lost strength and ensure you get your stability back.
When some other ligament is injured along with the LCL, then your doctor might advise you for a surgery.
However, you can avoid all these injuries to your ligament if you take care about your each step. Do regular stretching to strengthen your muscles and keep in mind that you need to align yourself properly in every sport so as to avoid the ligament injuries. Our clinic specializes in treating all types of sports injuries.
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DR SHAILESH KESHAV MISHRA
Consultant Orthopedic, Joint Replacement and Arthroscopy Surgeon