LCL Tear Information

Lateral Collateral Ligament (LCL) Injuries

LCL Torn
Torn LCL Injury

What Is the LCL?

The Lateral Collateral Ligament (or LCL) is a flexible band of tissue located on the outside of the knee joint. The LCL connects your thighbone to your shinbone. The function of the LCL is to help limit twisting and side to side motions of the knee. It also contributes to the stabilization of the knee joint, along with the MCL (Medial Collateral Ligament).

LCL Injuries

LCL injuries can range from mild sprains to partial tears to complete ruptures. They usually occur along with other knee injuries, such as meniscus tears and dislocated knees, which is why it's important to visit your doctor if you think your LCL may be damaged.

There are three different injury grades (levels of severity) when it comes to LCL Injuries:

While the LCL is less likely to be injured than the MCL, the LCL is more difficult to heal.

Symptoms of an LCL Tear

Signs & Symptoms

The symptoms of an LCL Injury depend on the severity of the damage. If you only have a mild sprain, you may not experience any symptoms at all. If you have a complete LCL Tear (also called a rupture), you may have difficulty walking.

Signs and symptoms of an LCL Injury include:

Causes of an LCL Tear


Acute Injury - Lateral Collateral Ligament injuries are most commonly caused by the knee joint being pushed outwards due to a direct hit to the inside of the knee. These are known as acute injuries. This type of force causes stress and strain on the LCL, as it is located on the outside of the knee. This is often seen in contact sports such as hockey and football. Another typical cause is sharp twisting movements of the knee, which are seen in sports such as downhill skiing, soccer and basketball.

Overuse Injury - Alternatively, LCL injuries can be caused by repetitive motions that lead to degeneration of the tissue over time. These are also known as repetitive strain or overuse injuries and are more likely to affect people that are over the age of 40.


There are many different treatment options for LCL injuries. You should always try conservative treatment before considering surgery. However, if your LCL is completely ruptured, (meaning your tissue is in two pieces and no longer held together) you may need to undergo surgery in order to regain proper movement of your knee.

Rest - First of all, you should rest your injured knee. You don't want to do any further damage to your LCL. Some people go as far as using crutches to avoid re-injury. Stay off your knee for the first several days after injuring your LCL and don't do any vigorous physical activity. During this time, you should definitely avoid doing the activity that caused your LCL injury.

Treatment for an LCL Tear

Cold Compression - Next, you need to ice your LCL to bring down the swelling and inflammation. You can use a cold pack or a bag of peas or ice from the freezer. There are also safer, higher quality cold compression wraps available online that do a much better job. Just make sure you don't put anything frozen directly on your skin, as this can cause severe damage. Wrap the ice in a towel or wear a layer of clothing between the ice and your skin. When you're icing the LCL, you can also elevate your knee above your heart by resting your leg on a pillow. This will aid in further reducing the inflammation.

Immobilization - Many people also find wearing a brace or splint effective in preventing movements that can lead to pain and further damage to the LCL.

Painkillers - Taking over-the-counter pain medications such as Advil and Aleve can help to relieve your pain and inflammation. However, painkillers should be limited to times when you are at rest. Taking them when you are active is dangerous. Painkillers block the pain signal, making you unaware of any further damage you're doing to your knee until the effects wear off and you have more pain than before.

It's important to know the difference between NSAIDs (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs) such as ibuprofen and naproxen and analgesics like Tylenol. NSAIDs work to alleviate both pain and inflammation, while analgesics only relieve pain. If inflammation is a concern, try to stick with NSAIDs.

Blood Flow - Once your swelling and inflammation have subsided, you need to stimulate healthy blood flow to your LCL. This will help speed up your recovery and help to repair your damaged LCL. While being physically active is one way to promote blood flow, this can lead to re-injury of your fragile tissue. When you're recovering from an LCL Tear, you want to rest and protect the area as much as possible. There are medical devices on the market that can do this for you. Improving blood flow is essential if you want to heal your LCL without resorting to surgery.

Physiotherapy - Once you are far enough along in the healing process to not experience pain or re-injury to the knee during light exercise, you are ready to begin physiotherapy. This will help you restore strength and flexibility to the knee and usually involves a combination of stretching and strengthening exercises. Physiotherapists also use other treatments, such as taping, cold compression and blood flow stimulation.

LCL Taping

Taping your LCL can help by providing your injured tissue with additional support and protection. It can also work to relieve swelling by applying compression to your LCL throughout the day. Using sports tape (also called kinesiology tape and athletic tape) has been shown to prevent re-injury and even improve movement. Wearing tape during exercise is especially important, as it helps keep your tissue in place and prevents futher damage.

There are a variety of resources for taping online, including instructions on how to apply tape. Please try different applications for your LCL injury in order to find the one that works best for you. Here's an example below:

LCL Taping

1. Position your knee to 90°.

2. Take a full length piece of tape (about 10 inches long) and cut it in half, rounding the corners, so you have two pieces that are each about 5 inches in length.

3. Take one of the 5 inch pieces of tape and tear the backing in the middle, peeling it away so you are holding onto the two anchor ends.

4. Using 100% stretch in the middle and no stretch at the ends, apply the tape horizontally over the point of pain on the outside of your knee.

5. Take the other 5 inch piece of tape and tear the backing in the middle, peeling it away so you are holding onto the two anchor ends.

6. Using 80% stretch in the middle and no stretch at the ends, apply the tape on an angle over the first piece to create an "X".

7. Take a full length piece of tape (10 inches) and tear the backing off one end, anchoring it right below the "X" with no stretch.

8. Apply the tape down over your point of pain with 80% stretch, bending it towards your thigh.

9. Lay down the end of the tape with no stretch, then rub the tape in to ensure it sticks to the skin.

LCL Tear Surgery


The goal of LCL surgery is to improve stability and restore proper motion. If you have a complete LCL tear, talk to your doctor about your options for surgery, as there are several different methods. The type of surgery required will depend on the severity of the tear, as well as the location. Most LCL tears can be repaired by stitching the tissue back together. However, some LCL injuries may require a graft, where tissue is taken from your quads or hamstrings to replace the torn LCL.

LCL Repair

LCL Repair is performed either through arthroscopy (where a tiny camera is inserted inside a small incision) or an open incision in the skin. If your tear is located somewhere in the middle of your LCL, the two ends will be sewn back together. If your tear has caused your LCL to detach from your thighbone or shinbone, it will need to be re-attached with strong sutures or staples.

LCL Reconstruction

LCL Reconstruction is a bit more serious than LCL Repair, as it requires a tendon graft (surgical transplant of living tissue). This can either be an autograft, which is when healthy tissue from your own body is used, or an allograft, which is when tissue from a tissue bank is used. This is an open procedure (done through an open incision and not with arthroscopic tools) where the tendon graft is attached to the bones with screws in order to replace the damaged LCL.

LCL Tear Diagnosis

If you suspect you may have an LCL Tear, tell your doctor how you think the injury occurred and what symptoms you've been experiencing. Then your doctor will examine your knee to look for any visible swelling. Your doctor will likely feel around the outside of your knee to see if it is tender. Your doctor will discuss your medical history with you to rule out any other issues, such as arthritis or gout.

In order to confirm a diagnosis, your doctor may send you to get an x-ray or MRI imaging test. An x-ray may be ordered if your doctor suspects an issue like arthritis, as soft tissue like the LCL won't show up on an x-ray. The LCL will show up on an MRI, however. An MRI will allow your doctor to confirm the LCL Tear and get a gauge of how severe the injury is.

Recovery Steps for an LCL Tear


A mild LCL injury or sprain will take about 4-6 weeks of conservative treatment to heal. Even then, you should continue to stimulate blood flow to ensure complete healing and to prevent re-injury.

A moderate LCL tear will take about 2 months to fully heal. At the 2 month mark you should be able to resume most of your regular activities.

A complete LCL tear will take 3+ months to heal, with the aid of surgery.

LCL Exercises

The below exercises are designed to maintain the strength and stability of the knee joint when the LCL is injured. Just make sure you don't attempt these exercises too early in the recovery process, as this could cause re-injury. If it hurts, don't do it!

Quad Sets Exercise for an LCL Tear

Quad Sets

Sit on the floor with your injured leg stretched out straight in front of you, with your uninjured leg bent so your foot is flat on the floor. You may want to roll up a small towel and place it under your injured knee for support. Tense up the quad muscles in your injured leg (the muscles in the front of your thigh) by pushing your knee into the floor (your heel should lift slightly off the ground). Hold for 5-10 seconds, then relax your leg again. Do 10 reps 3 times a day.

Clamshell Exercise for an LCL Tear

Clamshell Exercise

Lie down on the floor, on your uninjured side. Bend your hips and your knees at 45 degrees, with your feet together. Still keeping your feet together, slowly raise the knee that's on top as far as you can. Hold for a second, then lower your knee back down. Do 10 reps 3 times a day.

Step-Up Exercise for an LCL Tear

Step-Up Exercise

You will need an exercise platform or something of a similar size (about 5 inches or 13 centimeters high) in order to complete this exercise. Take the platform and step up on it with the foot on your injured side, keeping your other foot flat on the floor. Transfer all of your weight to the injured leg and straighten it as your other foot lifts off the ground. Lower the foot on your uninjured side back down to the floor, so it's at the starting position. Do 10 reps 3 times a day.

Calf Raise Exercise for an LCL Tear

Calf Raises

Make sure you do the following exercise with something nearby you can hold onto to keep your balance. Stand with your feet shoulder width apart and lift your heels off the floor, as high as they will go, so you are standing on the balls of your feet. Lower your heels back to the floor slowly. Do 15 reps twice a day.

Bridge Exercise for an LCL Tear

Bridge Exercise

Lie down on the floor, on your back. You may want to roll a towel and place it under your neck for support. Bend your knees so your feet are firmly planted on the floor. Keeping your knees bent and your feet in contact with the floor, raise your hips up towards the ceiling. Hold for a few seconds and lower your hips back down. Do 10 reps 3 times a day.

Lunge Exercise for an LCL Tear


Stand with your feet hip width apart. Keeping your back straight, step forward several feet with your right leg. Lift your left heel slightly off the ground, but make sure you keep your toes touching the floor. Bend both of your knees to a 90 degree angle. Hold for several seconds and rise. Go back to the starting position and repeat the lunge with your left leg. Do 10 reps 3 times a day.

Heel Slides Exercise for an LCL Tear

Heel Slides

Lie down on the floor with your legs stretched out straight in front of you. Take your injured leg and slide your heel towards your glutes (your knee will start to bend) until your knee is at a 90 degree angle. Hold for several seconds, then slowly return your leg to the start position. Do 15 reps twice a day.

Straight Leg Raise Exercise for an LCL Tear

Straight Leg Raise

Lie down on the floor with your legs stretched out straight in front of you. Bend your uninjured leg so your foot is lying flat on the floor. Keep your injured leg straight and tighten your thigh muscles. Raise your injured leg up off the floor about 8-10 inches. Hold for 5 seconds. Slowly lower your injured leg back to the floor. Do 10 reps twice a day.

Hip Extension Exercise for an LCL Tear

Hip Extension

Lie down on a flat surface on your stomach, with your legs stretched out behind you. Cross your arms under your head so you can rest your head on your arms. Tighten your buttock muscles. Keeping your knee straight, lift your injured leg off the floor about 8-10 inches and hold for 5 seconds. Lower your injured leg back down to the floor. Do 10 reps 3 times a day.

Related Forum Content from the makers of the BFST

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The King Brand forum is a great place to research specific ailments and to figure out whether or not the BFST and ColdCure products can help. Their treatment advisors are constantly posting on forums to help educate people on how to heal their injuries. If you can't find the answer you're looking for, then feel free to take part in their forum by registering.

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Tensor Fascia Latae pain

Hi there,

I'm suffering for almost 5 years from pain in my right hip. It's a deep pain I feel when I'm sitting and lean on one leg, referred to my knee (feels like a sharp pain when I'm walking) After so many MRI scans they found a (la good one) hibernoma tumor in my hipflexor. After surgery, the tumor is almost gone (1 cm the most, 20 cm is gone now), the pain increased to a level I needed 2 or 3 tramadol (for more then a year now) to make it through a day at the office (horrible pain while sitting on a chair or sofa).
On the EMG they saw reinnervation of the tensor fascia latae muscle/nerve. Pressure on it let me almost cry.
Already had 4 cortisone shots, but the pain is almost at the same level. It's no bursitus.

I've already ordered the Back/Hip inferno wrap, so I hope it will help me to recover.
Can you give some advise if this is a good treatment for it?


Re: Tensor Fascia Latae pain

Thank you for your interest in King Brand.  I hope by using the BFST it will give you some relief.  By bringing blood flow through the area, it can only help.  It may not make the pain go away 100% but it may manage your day to day much better.  You can also benefit a lot from adding Cold therapy into your day.  Keeping the inflammation down is key in helping the good blood flow through as well.

I hope you will be able to decrease the pain medication by using the BFST routinely.  Please do not use the BFST if you have had cortisone within the last 4-6 weeks as it can affect your blood pressure.  Also discontinue if you feel added discomfort from using it.  Read instructions thoroughly and work your way slowly through the levels of intensity.  It is a matter of conditioning your hip to get used to the stimulated circulation.

Please let us know if you have any questions along the way.  In your case I am not sure if anything will get fixed or fully healed, but as mentioned before, it will hopefully manage the pain.

All the best