Key Points about Lateral Collateral Ligament (LCL) Injury

  • LCL injuries occur when the lateral collateral ligament in the knee stretches or breaks, often from a direct trauma to the inside edge of the knee joint.
  • Symptoms of an LCL injury include pain and swelling in the knee, trouble walking, and a feeling of instability when bearing weight on the affected knee.
  • LCL injuries are generally treated with rest, ice, anti-inflammatory medicines and physical therapy.
Common related conditions
Anterior Cruciate Ligament (ACL) Injury Medial Collateral Ligament (MCL) Injury Quadriceps Tendonitis Knee Arthritis

Overview

The lateral collateral ligament is an important ligament in the knee’s outer edge that connects the shinbone to the thighbone. When a movement or trauma to knee stresses the joint, the LCL can become strained or torn.

Treatment for an LCL injury generally involves rest, ice, anti-inflammatory medicines, and physical therapy.

Call your doctor if you have persistent knee pain, swelling and trouble walking following a trauma to the knee. 

LCL injury causes

LCL injuries most often occur after a direct trauma to inner edge of the knee causes the lateral collateral ligament to stretch or tear.

LCL injury risk factors

Playing contact sports may increase your risk of an LCL injury.

LCL injury symptoms

The main symptom of a PCL injury is pain along the outer edge of the knee. This pain may be accompanied by:

  • Swelling in the knee
  • Struggling to walk
  • A feeling of instability or wobbling when bearing weight on the affected knee

LCL injury diagnosis

When assessing a possible LCL injury, your doctor will examine the affected knee and ask about the event that caused your injury. Your doctor may also order imaging tests such as an MRI scan or X-ray.

LCL injury treatment

After an LCL injury you should rest the affected leg, ice the injured area, and avoid activities that cause pain. Your doctor may also advise you to take over-the-counter anti-inflammatories to manage pain and swelling, and to follow a specific physical therapy and rehabilitation regimen.

Surgery is not performed to treat a damaged LCL, unless additional ligaments in the knee are damaged.

When to seek care

Call your doctor if you have persistent knee pain, swelling and trouble walking following a trauma to the knee.

Next Steps

Your doctor will assess your LCL injury and set up a treatment plan accordingly.