Knee > LCL Tear > Treatments

   Non-Surgical Treatment

Home recovery

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:

   A 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.

   A grade 2 tear can take from two to four weeks.

   A 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:

   Manage 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.

   The 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.

   Stretching 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-cushioned, well-fitting athletic shoes can reduce the impact of the load exerted on the knee.

   If 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.

Non-Surgical Treatment
   Home Recovery
Surgical Repair
Lateral Knee Reconstruction

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