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What Is an LCL Tear

The LCL, or lateral collateral ligament, is the thin band that runs from the femur (thigh bone) to the fibula (lower leg bone) along the outside of the knee. The purpose of the LCL is to work in conjunction with the other ligaments of the knee to stabilize it while moving. The collateral ligaments control the side to side movement of the knee and protect it from unusual movement.

doctor examining knee

LCL Tear Causes and Risk Factors

Those who participate in direct contact sports such as football, soccer and hockey, are most susceptible to LCL tear injuries. Often times, an LCL tear results when a violent collision occurs during sports, causing severe knee pain. A direct blow to the inside of the knee causes the ligament to over-stretch, which can cause a tear. If the LCL is damaged, it is likely other structures in the joint were damaged as well.

Symptoms of LCL Tear

Symptoms of an LCL tear are felt on the outside of the knee, and often described as:

  • Pain
  • Swelling and tenderness
  • Stiffness
  • Knee feels loose
  • Knee feels as it may give out or lock up

Sometimes if the injury is severe, numbness and weakness may be felt in the foot as there may be damage to the nerves in the knee.

When Surgery Is Necessary

Dr. Madsen, the best knee doctor in Dallas, will recommend immediate treatment of rest, ice/heat therapy and anti-inflammatories such as ibuprofen or naproxen for pain and swelling. Once pain and swelling have reduced, you may begin rehabilitation. A brace may be worn to protect the knee and physical therapy exercises will help stabilize the knee and rebuild strength. In some instances, if the LCL is not responding to rehabilitation, and weakness is still apparent, or if there were multiple injuries to the joint, surgery may be necessary to repair the torn ligament. As the top orthopedic surgeon in Dallas, Dr. Madsen uses the latest advancements in arthroscopic surgery to make the surgery and recovery time as quick and painless as possible.

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