Rupture of the lateral collateral ligament (LCL) of the knee is usually caused by a traumatic event such as a sudden twisting of the lower leg or direct contact with an object. It is more commonly seen in athletes who participate in contact sports or activities that require sudden changes in direction or high-impact landings.
Diagnosis of an LCL rupture is made based upon clinical examination and imaging studies. The patient may experience pain, swelling, tenderness, and difficulty straightening the knee. Palpation of the knee may reveal a gap in the LCL, and an x-ray or MRI can be used to confirm the diagnosis.
Other conditions that must be considered in the differential diagnosis of an LCL rupture include meniscal tears, patellar tendon tears, and ligamentous sprains.
Treatment of an LCL rupture usually begins with non-surgical measures such as rest, ice, compression, and elevation. The patient may also use crutches and a knee brace to support the knee and help with mobility. If these measures fail to provide adequate relief, surgical repair of the LCL may be necessary.
The prognosis for an LCL rupture is generally good, especially when the injury is treated promptly and properly. The patient can typically return to their previous level of activity within 6-8 weeks, although the recovery time may be longer depending on the severity of the injury.