LCL Tear

The LCL is a thin band that runs along the outside of the knee and connects the thighbone (femur) to the fibula, which is the small bone that runs down the side of the knee and connects to the ankle. Similar to the medial collateral ligament (MCL), the LCL's primary function is to stabilize the knee as it moves. Tears to the LCL commonly occur as a result of direct blows to the inside of the knee, which can over-stretch the ligaments on the outside of the knee and, in some cases, cause them to tear.

The tear can occur in the middle or at either end of the ligament. LCL tears often occur while playing sports in which there are violent collisions (such as football or hockey). It is important to note that an LCL tear rarely occurs in isolation – it usually is in conjunction with another knee injury.

Our Approach to LCL Tear

UCSF is committed to helping patients with lateral collateral ligament (LCL) tears return to the highest level of activity possible, whether that means a daily walk or reporting for practice with the NFL. Our team includes orthopedic surgeons, primary care physicians trained in sports medicine, physical therapists and athletic trainers. These specialists work together to tailor a treatment plan to each patient's needs and goals.

Treatment depends on the extent of the injury. Severe LCL tears, which often happen in conjunction with other damage to the knee, may require surgery followed by physical rehabilitation. Less severe injuries usually respond to physical rehabilitation alone. We offer the full range of physical therapies, including exercise regimens, functional activities and neuromuscular reeducation, in addition to providing information and instruction. Our specialists guide each patient through a personalized program designed to facilitate healing, recover function and improve physical performance.

Awards & recognition

  • usnews-neurology

    Best hospital in Northern California

  • usnews-orthopedics

    One of the nation’s best in orthopedics

UCSF Health medical specialists have reviewed this information. It is for educational purposes only and is not intended to replace the advice of your doctor or other health care provider. We encourage you to discuss any questions or concerns you may have with your provider.