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The lateral collateral ligament (LCL) is a tough, elastic band of tissue that attaches the shinbone to the thighbone and allows for limited side-to-side motion of the knee joint. Similar to the medial collateral ligament (MCL), the LCL is often damaged in violent knee injuries, which also damage other ligaments, such as the anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) or posterior cruciate ligament (PCL). The LCL is on the outside of the knee joint—the side facing away from the other knee.
When the LCL gets stretched too far or tears, lateral collateral ligament injury treatment is needed. LCL injuries are less common than MCL injuries, but the effects of an LCL injury usually cause more problems with knee instability because of how the knee is constructed. LCL injuries usually occur when the knee is hyperextended or bent too far laterally. Symptoms include swelling and bleeding, and sometimes bleeding into the knee joint itself.
Lateral collateral ligament injury treatment varies greatly with the extent of the injury, but generally doctors tend to lean towards surgical treatment, due to the increased knee instability after an injury to the LCL. If the LCL is not completely torn, there is usually no need for surgery. The doctor may suggest aspirin or an anti-inflammatory medication and ice to keep the swelling down, as well as a knee brace for a few weeks if the sprain is minor. For moderate tears, surgery may not be necessary, but some doctors will recommend surgery because of knee instability. For severe tears of the LCL, the most prominent course of lateral collateral ligament injury treatment is surgery. There are multiple kinds of surgery normally used for collateral ligaments. The most common surgical procedure is called ligament repair. The damaged ligament is reattached to the bone with sutures or anchor devices. For severe collateral ligament tears, surgeons repair them with a ligament reconstruction procedure in which they graft a new ligament altogether. Ligament grafts are taken either from elsewhere in the body or from a tissue bank.