Anyone who has ever suffered a lateral collateral ligament (LCL) tear understands how painful it can be. There are several types of collateral ligaments on the outside of the knee. The LCL is a connecting ligament that joins the thigh bone (femur) to the smaller of two lower leg bones known as the fibula.
Understanding who is most at risk for LCL injuries is the first step toward prevention. It’s also critical to know where to seek support if you or someone you know encounters an LCL injury.
Incidents That Result in LCL Injuries
Tearing a ligament in your knee is likely to occur in a sudden, unexpected way. If you fall or stumble and twist your knee, it can result in an LCL injury. Blunt force trauma to the side of the knee is also a common cause of ligament injuries. Any type of sudden pivot or awkward landing after a jump may also place you at risk for an LCL tear.
If you fall, trip while running, or are involved in a motor vehicle collision, any one of these incidents could result in a severely torn lateral collateral ligament. It is also possible that you might sprain your knee, without the ligament tearing. In other words, if the knee is overextended or stretches too suddenly, the injury is like spraining your ankle.
Athletes Are in a High-Risk Group
If you were to ask a certified athletic trainer, coach, or physician licensed to practice sports medicine about LCL injuries, most of them would likely say they have either witnessed an athlete injuring their LCL or have helped treat such injuries after they’ve occurred. If you’re an athlete or the parent of an athlete, you or your child may be at risk for an LCL injury, especially if the sport in question happens to be soccer, football, basketball, hockey, or volleyball.
Playing soccer or hockey involves a lot of sudden movements, pivots, and turns, which places pressure on the ligaments in the legs, especially the LCL. In volleyball and basketball, athletes are constantly jumping. While a ligament can be strained during the launch of a jump, LCL injuries also often occur if a person jumps and lands in an awkward position.
LCL Injuries Are Also Common Among Seniors
The aging process can affect the body in many ways. While it’s great if you’re a senior who lives an active, healthy lifestyle, it’s also important to understand some of the changes that take place in your body and take precautionary measures to avoid injury. As you get older, you lose muscle mass, and your bones may not be as strong as they were when you were younger. While you may enjoy regular exercise or sports, your body does not likely have the same reaction time or ability to move as quickly as you may have been able to in your younger years.
Any of these issues increase your risk for an LCL injury. In fact, in addition to hip, back, and wrist injuries, knee injuries top the list for the most common types of injuries senior citizens are most prone to experiencing.
Symptoms of a Torn LCL
If you suffer blunt force trauma to the side of your knee, you might hear a popping sound if your lateral collateral ligament tears. Pain on either side of your knee is also suggestive of an LCL injury. It would not be uncommon for your knee to feel quite unstable if you have suffered an LCL injury. You might not be able to bear weight on that side of your body. Many people with LCL injuries notice swelling around their knees, and some people also experience bruising.
Recovering From an LCL Injury
It’s important to seek medical attention if you believe you have injured your lateral collateral ligament. An experienced medical team is a key factor toward helping you achieve as full a recovery as possible. Depending on your circumstances, you may need surgery as part of your treatment plan.
If you’re diagnosed with an LCL sprain rather than a tear, your recovery may include resting your knee and using a compression wrap or brace to prevent swelling and to stabilize your knee to prevent further injury as it heals. It can take weeks, even months to recover from an LCL injury. You may regain a certain amount of mobility during recovery by using crutches until you can bear full weight again on the leg that was injured. In fact, after proper care and treatment, many people can resume their regular activities, including running or playing sports.
If you have experienced an LCL injury the team at Mobility Bone & Joint Institute can help you get back to doing the activities you enjoy. Call us today at (978) 794-1946 or (603) 898-2244 to schedule an appointment.
Diagnosis and Treatment of LCL Injuries at Mobility Bone & Joint Institute
Mobility Bone & Joint Institute is the only practice in the Merrimack Valley that can diagnose diseases, infuse medications, and perform x-rays on site.
Do you have questions about the diagnosis and treatment of LCL injuries at Mobility Bone & Joint Institute?
Call (978) 794-1946 or click here to schedule an appointment at our Andover, MA office.
Call (603) 898-2244 or click here to schedule an appointment at our Salem, NH office.