Lateral Collateral Ligament Sprain

The knees are put through a lot when playing football. They can be damaged through heavy contact with opponents or become weakened through overuse.

What Causes Lateral Collateral Ligament Sprain?

The Lateral Collateral Ligament (LCL) is found in the outer knee and it links the thighbone to the shinbone. Along with the other ligaments, it helps to support our weight and stabilise the knee. The ligament can become damaged when the knee is twisted or forced into an awkward position during a match. It can happen when an opponent applies too much pressure to the inner part of a player's leg below the knee during a tackle. Having a previous knee injury may make it more likely to happen again.

The type of ligament damage is classed as a sprain and there are 3 different degrees of severity:

1st degree sprains damage a few of the ligament tissue fibres. The player will feel pain as soon as the injury is sustained and when bending the knee. It will feel more painful when standing up after sitting down.

2nd degree sprains cause damage to more of the ligament fibres, but the ligament will not be ruptured. It will also feel more painful.

3rd degree sprains result in a complete rupture of the LCL. It will be incredibly painful and the knee joint will feel unstable.

Prevention of Lateral Collateral Ligament Sprain

Doing balancing exercises will improve the stability of the knee, making it less vulnerable to injury. Wearing knee braces will offer protection from tackles and heavy falls during a match.

Treatment for a Lateral Collateral Ligament Sprain

Rest, ice, compression and elevation (RICE) will initially ease pain and reduce swelling. Medication prescribed by a doctor will also help and wearing a knee brace will protect the knee from further damage. The specific type of treatment used depends on what kind of LCL sprain you have suffered. A 1st degree sprain will require about 3 weeks of rest. To recover from a 2nd degree sprain, 6-8 weeks of rehabilitation and physiotherapy will be necessary. If you have suffered a 3rd degree strain, reconstructive surgery will probably have to be performed.

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