What is a lateral collateral ligament injury?
The LCL is a band of tissue on the outside of your knee. It connects your thighbone to the bone of your lower leg and helps keep the knee from bending inward. An LCL injury is a sprain or tear to the lateral collateral ligament (LCL).
What are the causes of LCL tear?
LCL is torn when the knee bends inwards excessively, and the LCL is stretched too far. Ligament tear occurs during a road traffic accident or as a result of sports injury. The Activities that involve bending, twisting, or a quick change of direction for example, playing football or other sports can cause LCL and other ligament tears involving the knee joint.
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What are the symptoms of LCL injury?
If you have a mild LCL injury, you may not experience any symptoms. If you have a more severe LCL injury, you may experience pain, instability, swelling and stiffness.
Other symptoms of an LCL injury include:
- Inability to walk
- Decreased range of motion in the knee
- Popping sound at the time of the injury
- Swelling in the knee
What are the different grades of LCL Tear?
LCL tears are graded similarly to other ligament tears on a scale of I to III:
- Grade I tear: This is an incomplete tear of the LCL. The tendon is still in continuity, and the symptoms are usually minimal.
- Grade II tear: Grade II injuries are also considered incomplete tears of the LCL. These patients may complain of instability when attempting to cut or pivot.
- Grade III LCL tear: A grade III injury is a complete tear of the LCL. Patients have significant pain and swelling, and often have difficulty bending the knee. Instability, or giving out, is a common finding with grade III LCL tears.
What are the tests done to diagnosis LCL injury?
In addition to a detailed examination, doctors may use imaging tests to confirm the diagnosis and assess the status to other ligament structures and cartilage of the knee:
- MRI scans: This displays images of soft tissues in the knee, including the LCL. MRI scanning is more than 90 percent accurate in evaluating LCL injury severity.
- X-rays: X-ray does not show ligament injuries, but it may help determine whether a broken bone is contributing to symptoms.
What is the treatment for LCL Tear?
Grade I and II may require rest, ice packs, protective knee brace and medications to tackle pain and swelling. However grade III LCL tears, because of the severity of the injury will usually requires surgical reconstruction.
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