Tag Archives: Lateral Collateral Ligament

What are Lateral Collateral Ligament Injury Symptoms that need Surgery?

By  aenriquez  published  December 27, 2017

Knee Ligament InjuryLateral collateral ligament (LCL) injury often requires reconstructive surgery. LCL reconstruction is necessary to avoid rotational instability of the knee and cartilage damage. The extent of damage can affect the outcome of surgery. Certain symptoms exist that make surgery necessary. Our orthopedic surgeons are able to reattach the ligament with sutures or reconstruct it using donor tissue.

The lateral collateral ligament is one of the four major ligaments of the knee. The LCL is outside of the knee, and it connects the femur (thigh bone) to the fibula (lower leg bone). The LCL’s main function is to avoid varus stress across the knee (buckling outward). Together with the popliteofibular ligament, the joint capsule, and the popliteus tendon, these structures form the PLC complex, which gives you external rotational stability.


LCL Injury and Symptoms

Lateral collateral ligament injury symptoms vary from person-to-person. Injuries to the LCL and posterior lateral corner occur from a rotational force across the knee. A contact injury is a direct blow to the inside of the knee, whereas a non-contact injury is caused from hyperextension stress. The symptoms of LCL injury include:

  • Swelling and tenderness along the outside of the knee
  • Pain that can be mild to moderate
  • Feeling that the knee will give way under stress
  • Numbness or weakness of the foot related to the peroneal nerve, which is near the ligament stretched during injury


Can you Walk with a Torn LCL?

A torn lateral collateral ligament can produce severe pain and limit movement, depending on the severity of the injury. However, some people can walk following an injury or tear to the LCL. The doctor will grade the tear based on symptoms. A careful eye is needed to diagnose a posterolateral and lateral injury. The doctor will check for:

  • Ecchymosis and skin abrasions on the side of injury
  • Pain on palpation
  • Difficulty ambulating
  • Loss of normal knee movement

Diagnosis and grading of the tear are confirmed using a magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scan. An MRI has a 90% accuracy for showing tears of the posterolateral corner and ligaments. To isolate the LCL, the doctor will apply stress during flexion and compare the knee to the other one. Signs that the knee requires surgery include a positive prone “dial” sign, problems with foot eversion and inversion, and severe tearing found during arthroscopy.

LCL Surgery for Tears and Injury

The lateral collateral ligament does not heal as well as the medial collateral ligament. For a minor tear, non-surgical treatment is used (bracing, rest, and ice). For high-grade acute tears, the ligament must be surgically reattached to the femur or fibula, depending on the situation. Surgical management includes open reconstruction using an allograft (donor material) or autograft (from the patient). The mini-open surgery involves a tiny incision and use of special tools and a camera to repair the ligament. The ends can be sewed together in certain cases where the ligament is torn into two pieces.

For a ruptured ligament, the surgeon will evaluate the situ1ation and make a surgical plan. Be sure to discuss all options with the orthopedic specialist and inquire about alternative therapies. When surgery is required, expect to have 4-12 weeks of recovery, which involves working with a physical therapist to regain strength and function of the knee.

King AH, Krych AJ, Prince MR, Pareek A, Stuart MJ, Levy BA. Surgical Outcomes of Medial Versus Lateral Multiligament-Injured, Dislocated Knees. Arthroscopy. 2016 Sep;32(9):1814-9. 
Yuuki A, Muneta T, Ohara T, Sekiya I, Koga H. Associated lateral/medial knee instability and its relevant factors in anterior cruciate ligament-injured knees. J Orthop Sci. 2016 Nov 19. pii: S0949-2658(16)30217-2. doi: 10.1016/j.jos.2016.10.009.
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What are Some Torn Ligament in Knee Symptoms?

By  aenriquez  published  October 27, 2017

There are four ligaments in the knee out of which the lateral collateral ligament is crucial for providing stability. Injury to this ligament is a very common occurrence that can affect optimal knee functioning. As such, it becomes important for athletes and others to be aware of some notable torn ligament in knee symptoms.

What happens in an LCL injury?

The lateral collateral ligament or LCL runs along the outside of the knee joint. Any partial or complete tear of the ligament can seriously impair movement and result in disability in more severe cases.

Depending on the nature of the injury, LCL injuries can be graded into the following categories:

Grade I injuries: Only a minimal amount of fibers get torn resulting in some pain and the individual can still utilize full functioning of the knee.

Grade II injuries: These injuries involve a greater amount of fiber tearing and impair knee function more severely.

Grade III injuries: These serious injuries result in rupturing all the fibers in the knee. The knee becomes severely destabilized and knee mobility/ function is significantly reduced. Grade III injuries may also lead to other complications in the knee area.

torn ligament in knee symptoms to check

Symptoms of an LCL injury

The symptoms of a torn ligament in the knee can range from being very mild to extremely severe. Symptoms are dictated by the severity of the sprain or if the ligament gets torn completely. While mild sprains may not present any noticeable symptoms, partial or complete tears can result in the following:

  • Swelling of the knee
  • Stiffness of knee joint
  • Soreness or pain on the outside of the knee
  • Instability of knee joint
  • Reduced mobility in the area

Swollen knee treatment

Occasionally an LCL injury may happen due to strenuous activity when a lot of pressure is placed on this ligament. Possible scenarios could be a sudden shift in movement putting too much weight on the knee or extending it too far.

In the case of minor injuries, the individual may still be able to pursue regular activity but may experience some stiffness and swelling in the knee. Since both grade I and grade II injuries to the LCL do not involve complete ligament tearing, they may be treated successfully using non-operative techniques.

Typical treatment options will include rest, compression, and cryotherapy with the aim of minimizing the pain and the associated swelling. Injury recovery accessories like a knee brace may be recommended.

Other options include taking pain relievers, keeping the knee elevated and limiting physical activity until the associated discomfort goes away.

Therapy will also involve a range of motion exercises to prevent joint stiffness and to keep the ligaments mobile. For such minor injuries, complete recovery time may take up to six weeks.

Severe LCL injuries, on the other hand, result in a complete tear and require surgical intervention to reconstruct the damaged ligament.

However, surgery is not usually recommended for treating LCL injuries in isolation. The LCL in these cases is often injured along with other ligaments in the knee to necessitate a surgical procedure.

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