Lateral Collateral Ligament (LCL) Injury

Lateral Collateral Ligament (LCL) Illustration
Illustration of the Lateral Collateral Ligament (LCL)

Key Points

  • LCL injuries in isolation are somewhat uncommon
  • The LCL provides stability against stress to the outside of the knee
  • Most injuries occur with trauma from an anterolateral blow to the knee
  • The physician must rule out injuries to other structures of the knee (ACL, PCL, etc)
  • Treatment depends on grading with grade I and II injuries usually being treated nonoperatively


  • High risk sports: tennis, soccer and skiing/snowboarding
  • LCL injuries are graded depending on laxity on examination
  • Graded 1 (5 mm of laxity), grade 2 (6 – 10 mm), grade 3 (> than 10 mm)
  • Most common etiology is an anterolateral blow of the knee


  • Classically presents as pain in the lateral knee and fibular head
  • Pain may make it difficult to walk immediately
  • Pain usually localized to the injury but swelling in the area may occur
  • Instability may occur with running and cutting or with planting/twisting with walking


  • Treatment depends on grading
  • Nonoperative management most common with grade I and grade II injuries
  • Grade I and II injuries are treated with early mobilization and physical therapy/rehabilitation
  • Grade III injuries are most frequently treated surgically with LCL reconstruction
  • LCL repair may be indicated if bony avulsion, though nonoperative management has been proposed
Knee Rehab
Hinged Knee Brace
Rehab Bands

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