You should limit physical activity until the pain and swelling go away. The doctor may put you on crutches and in a brace to protect the ligament. You may also be told not to put any weight on your knee when you walk.
After a period of keeping the knee still, you should do exercises to strengthen and stretch the knee. Physical therapy may help you regain knee and leg strength.
Surgery is often not needed when only the LCL has been torn. However, this ligament is often injured during significant trauma, including knee dislocations.
It is common for injuries to the LCL to occur with other ligament injuries. These are usually significant injuries, and you should seek medical help immediately. When injuries to other ligaments also occur, surgery is needed to prevent future instability of the knee.
Call immediately for emergency medical assistance if
Call your health care provider if:
You injure your knee and have symptoms of LCL injury (injury to the LCL is often a serious knee injury, which can include many knee ligaments and injuries to the nerves and blood vessels)
You are being treated for an LCL injury and you notice increased instability in your knee, pain or swelling return after they subsided, or your injury does not go away with time
You re-injure your knee
Use proper technique when exercising or playing sports. Many cases may not be preventable.
De Carlo M, Armstrong B. Rehabilitation of the knee following sports injury. Clin Sports Med. 2010;29:81-106.
Schorfhaar AJ, Mair JJ, Fetzer GB, Wolters BW, LaPrade RF. Knee: Lateral and postereolateral injuries of the knee. In: DeLee JC, Drez D Jr., Miller MD, eds. DeLee and Drez's Orthopaedic Sports Medicine. 3rd ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Saunders Elsevier;2009:chap 23;sect F.
Linda J. Vorvick, MD, Medical Director, MEDEX Northwest Division of Physician Assistant Studies, University of Washington, School of Medicine; and C. Benjamin Ma, MD, Assistant Professor, Chief, Sports Medicine and Shoulder Service, UCSF Department of Orthopaedic Surgery. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M., Inc.