What are the treatment options for an LCL tear?
Dr. Williams may recommend the RICE method: rest, ice, compression and elevation for mild or incomplete LCL injuries. Non-steroidal anti-inflammatories, such as ibuprofen, can help with pain and swelling. He may recommend the use of a brace for added knee support, and physical therapy to regain strength, range of motion, and normal knee function.
The lateral collateral ligament does not heal well on its own, unlike a medial collateral ligament tear (MCL tear). Injury to the LCL may necessitate surgery, depending on the severity of the tear. The two most common types of surgery used to address LCL tears or injuries are:
- LCL Repair – Done when there is a complete tear of the LCL, and the ligament is torn in near one of its native insertion sites on the femur or fibula. If the ligament tissue is viable, Dr. Williams may be able to sew or attach the LCL pieces back to its proper anatomical position.
- LCL Reconstruction – Done when an LCL injury or tear when the LCL has torn substantially, in the middle, and is not reparable. If the ligament cannot be repaired, Dr. Williams will reconstruct the ligament using a tissue graft replacement. Tissue taken from the patient (autograft) or a donor (allograft) can be used for LCL reconstruction. Most patients will be able to leave the hospital the same day as surgery. The patient will need crutches for up to 2-3 weeks, a brace and rehabilitation for 2-3 months following LCL reconstruction. All rehabilitation protocols are personalized by Dr. Williams to fit the patient’s specific needs.