Tear > Treatments
The initial treatment for most LCL (lateral collateral
ligament) injuries involves reducing the pain and inflammation
in the knee, and bracing or immobilizing the knee to
keep it stabilized. Rest, icing, elevation, and pain
relievers such as aspirin or ibuprofen can ease pain
and swelling. To immobilize the knee, your physician
may recommend that you wear a lightweight cast or brace
that will hold your knee out straight. Immobilization
usually is recommended for 72 hours. However, you may
be instructed to wear a brace that allows you to bend
and straighten your knee, but will not allow side-to-side
movement. If the cast or brace is designed so that you
cannot bend your knee, you will need to avoid having
to squat, kneel down, or bend over. You should try to
keep your leg elevated even if you are sitting in a
chair, to reduce blood flow to the knee joint. Depending
on the success of the above measures in reducing pain
and swelling, you may be able to start on a rehabilitative
program after a few days.
The LCL (lateral collateral ligament)
has a good blood supply, and usually responds very well
to non-surgical treatment. LCL tears do not heal quite
as well as MCL (medial collateral ligament) tears, and
grade 3 LCL tears may, in fact, require surgery. Depending
on the severity of the injury, a period of rest, bracing,
and physical therapy usually completes the healing process.
Once an LCL tear has fully healed, your long-term effects
should be minimal. Recovery times differ depending on
the severity of the injury:
minor, or grade 1, LCL tear can take from a few days
to a week and a half to heal sufficiently for you to
return to normal activities, including sports.
grade 2 tear can take from two to four weeks.
grade 3 tear, or complete tear of the ligament, usually
takes from four to eight weeks, unless it also involves
damage to the ACL, in which case the recovery time can
be considerably longer.
Once pain and swelling have subsided, you should be
able to begin exercises to restore strength and normal
range of motion to your knee. If you are still experiencing
soreness while you are doing exercises, you should proceed
slowly to prevent further irritation.
Though collateral ligament injuries
often occur during sports and are difficult to avoid,
there are several steps you can take to improve the
overall strength and flexibility of your knee:
your weight. Every pound in excess of your normal weight
puts three or four additional pounds of pressure on
your knee every time you take a step.
hamstrings, in the back of the thigh, and quadriceps,
the muscles in the front of the thigh, are crucial shock
and impact absorbers. These muscles must be kept strong
and flexible to protect the joint surfaces in your knee.
before exercising should be a regular part of your warmup;
however, it is important not to over-stretch. Never
push or pull on your leg with your hands while you are
stretching, and avoid squatting during your warmup,
which can put stress on your knee joint.
well-fitting athletic shoes can reduce the impact of
the load exerted on the knee.
you are engaging in activities that require a lot of
twisting and turning such as racket sports, skiing,
soccer, and basketball, do not assume you can play yourself
into shape; make sure you are in good physical shape
before you play.