Lateral Collateral Ligament (LCL) Injury: Tear, Sprain & Strain
Before we further discuss what an LCL (Lateral Collateral Ligament or often times referred to as the Fibular Collateral Ligament) injury is, it important to understand more about the LCL ligament. There are four ligaments located within the knee that connect the lower leg bones to the femur (ACL, MCL, LCL, and PCL). Where is your LCL? The LCL ligament is found along the outside of the knee and connects the femur to the smaller bone of the leg bone (fibula). The LCL along with the MCL are both collateral ligaments meaning they are found along the sides of the knee. The LCL controls the side to side movement within the knee.
Since the LCL does not connect to the meniscus or knee joint capsule, it is more flexible and less vulnerable to knee injuries.
An LCL injury is however very common in contact sports such as football and soccer. It’s important to keep in mind that there are many varying types of LCL injuries. For more information on LCL Injuries and LCL Tears visit our resource library.
Medial Collateral Ligament (MCL) Injuries
The medial collateral ligament (MCL) is one of four ligaments that are critical to the stability of the knee joint. The MCL spans the distance from the end of the thigh bone to the top of the shin bone and is on the inside of the knee joint. Typically, MCL injuries are contact injuries. More often than not something needs to strike the knee for the MCL to tear. MCL injuries are graded on an I-III scale, the higher number being more severe and requiring longer recovery time. Regardless of the grade of your injury, BraceAbility.com has a knee brace for your MCL.
Knee Braces for LCL Injury Treatment
Because the LCL is more flexible than other ligaments, the majority of injuries associated with this ligament will be simple sprains and strains. An LCL injury brace is often times the only treatment that is needed to recover from this type of injury.
If the injury to the LCL is more severe, a popping noise may occur. If this “popping” noise is present, it likely means that the ligament has torn. It is important to remember however that the “popping” noise may have been from any of the 4 ligaments in the knee. If you think you have suffered an injury to your knee, specifically the LCL or any ligament, it is important to seek medical attention immediately.
Some common LCL tear symptoms are:
- Knee gives away when standing or under stress
- Locking or catching sensation when the knee is moved
- Numbness or weakness in the foot
- Pain along the outside of the knee (LCL pain)
- Swelling and tenderness along the outside of the knee
Depending on the severity of the tear, LCL pain can be described from mild to severe.
Grades of LCL Tear
The severity of an LCL tear will most often be classified into one of three grades by the physician. Once the severity of the injury is determined, a proper treatment plan will be determined as well.
Small tears in the ligament. This grade of injury will produce some tenderness and minor pain.
Larger tears in the ligament but it is not completely torn. With this grade of injury, there will be noticeable looseness in the knee when moved. There will also be a major pain, tenderness and swelling on the outside of the knee.
A grade 3 tear means that the LCL is completely torn. It is also very common to have damage to the surrounding ligaments with this severe of an injury. Once again, the injured knee will have major swelling, pain, and tenderness along the outside of the knee. In this case, the entire knee will likely swell because of the severity of the injury.
LCL Tear Treatment-Knee Braces for Torn LCL Recovery
If you do suffer a torn LCL, it is important to get proper treatment immediately after the injury to ensure it heals sufficiently. It the torn ligament does not heal correctly, it is almost certain that you will experience instability in the joint making your LCL, and knee much more susceptible to re-injury.
If you think that you may have a torn knee ligament, visit our Ligament Tears page to find the perfect brace for you.
If you do happen to tear your LCL or MCL, BraceAbility offers the perfect brace for you. This functional knee brace is the ideal brace for anyone who suffers from any type of LCL injury, but specifically a torn LCL. This lateral collateral ligament knee brace can be worn as an alternative to surgery. It’s a functional knee brace meaning one can play sports and be active while wearing it.
This mode of treatment for LCL tears stands out above the rest due to its active thigh cuff that adjusts to changes in the muscles throughout its range of motion. Also, adding to the appeal of this hinged LCL knee brace is its low-profile, lightweight fit, which makes this brace picture-perfect for anyone who leads an active lifestyle.
LCL Braces for Football Knee Injuries & Post-Surgery
LCL tears are common in contact sports or sports requiring rapid changes in direction. These may include football, soccer, basketball and downhill skiing. The usual mechanism of injury is a twisting movement when weight-bearing (especially when landing from a jump) or due to a collision to the inner knee, forcing the knee to bend in the wrong direction (such as another player falling across the inside of the knee). Occasionally an LCL tear may occur gradually due to repetitive activities placing strain on the ligament.
When looking for a brace to help get you back in the game, consider the Functional Post-Op Ligament Knee Brace. This model stands out from the rest due to its active thigh cuff that adjusts to changes in the muscles its range of motion. Another great aspect of this brace is its low-profile; lightweight fit which is perfect for football. For more options, check out BraceAbility’s full line of post-op knee braces.