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How is a lateral collateral ligament (LCL) injury treated?
Most LCL injuries can be treated at home with:
- Rest and protecting your knee.
- Ice or a cold pack.
- Wrapping your knee with an elastic bandage (compression).
- Propping up (elevating) your knee.
- Anti-inflammatory medicine.
Your doctor may suggest that you use crutches to limit how much weight you put on your leg. He or she may also suggest that you wear a brace that protects and supports the knee but allows for some movement.
You may need to be less active for a while. But doing gentle stretching and range-of-motion exercises as advised by your doctor will help you heal.
A severe tear may need surgery. But this usually isn't done unless you also injure other parts of your knee, such as the anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) or meniscus.
Your treatment will depend on how severe your injury is and whether other parts of your knee are injured.
- Mild or grade 1.
These injuries may only need home treatment along with using crutches for a short time. You may also need to wear a hinged knee brace when your doctor says it's okay for you to put weight on your leg. Many people are able to be active again after about 3 to 4 weeks.
- Moderate or grade 2.
These injuries may require using crutches and wearing a hinged knee brace. Many people are able to be active again after about 8 to 12 weeks.
- Severe or grade 3.
These injuries may require wearing a hinged brace for a few months, and limiting weight on the leg for at least 6 weeks. In some cases, surgery may be needed. Many people are able to be active again after about 8 to 12 weeks.
Your doctor may recommend physical therapy to increase range of motion and strengthen your muscles.
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Stanford Medicine Outpatient Center450 Broadway Street
Redwood City, CA 94063