Running along the outside of the knee, the lateral collateral ligament (LCL) is one of the four major ligaments that support the knee. The lateral collateral ligament works to prevent the knee from moving too far laterally (away from the body).
The Lateral Collateral Ligament attaches to the femur and tibia, and can be injured if an athlete twists the knee, or if it is subjected to force from an opponent during competition.
Symptoms of an injury to the lateral collateral ligament include:
- History of knee twisting or trauma
- Pain on the outside of the knee joint
- Pain in the joint when bending or straightening the knee
Treatment should begin immediately with ice and elevation - this will reduce swelling and pain, and prevent further tissue damage. You might also find a knee brace helpful in taking strain off the injured joint.
Further treatment will depend upon the severity of the injury. For second degree sprains, rehabilitation of around 6 to 8 weeks should affect a full recovery.
More serious injuries, such as a third degree sprain, in which the ligament is completely ruptured, will require surgery to repair the structure.
Following surgery, rehabilitation will focus on strengthening the structure around the joint, and use of a wobble board to improve proprioception.