written by Matthew Henderson, Physical Therapist
If you feel this is potentially a ligament injury, I highly recommend consulting with a physical therapist.
If you decide to forego the medical care route, here is our main objective for LCL sprain recovery: Reducing strain on the ligament. This will allow inflammation to settle down and the healing process to begin.
With that in mind, minimize activities that exacerbate your pain (running, squats etc.) Basically, if it hurts - back off.
ICE OR HEAT
If you experience swelling go with icing over hot packs. This will help with the pain, stiffness and promote healing (info provided on exercise page below.)
Also begin a targeted LCL exercise program. Make sure you address both strength and flexibility (see below.) Luckily you don't have to figure out which exercises to perform, our PT's have done it for you! Just select the exercise option below.
Try to perform your exercises a few times a day. You can slowly cycle down as the pain diminishes.
WHAT TO EXPECT
If it's a mild injury then the above listed strategies should lead to significant improvement within a week.
BACK IN ACTION
Once the pain diminishes, ease back into your normal daily and athletic activities. Once again, start slow and let pain be your guide.
A WORD OF CAUTION
To be clear, if the ligament(s) are injured beyond a certain extent, full recovery may require surgery.
NOT IMPROVING FAST ENOUGH
See options below to connect with a licensed joint specialist in your community.
-- Check with your doctor or local physical therapist prior to initiating a new exercise program --
Range of Motion
Following a ligament injury the knee tends to swell, restricting the knee range-of-motion. This exercise methodically and safely address this tightness and ROM restriction.
Short Arc Quads
This exercise targets the end range of knee extension strength. This range often weakens following a knee injury, leading to knee buckling and pain.
The quadriceps are key to activities such as getting out of chairs without pain or difficulty. This exercise strengthens them without adding strain to the LCL.
Strengthening the outer hip to recover from a knee injury may seem strange. But research shows strong outer hips reduce knee instability and are an important part of recovery.
This exercise is a conservative approach to both improving hamstrings contraction AND your knee's range-of-motion.
Excessive swelling restricts knee range of motion, inhibits the knee musculature and slow the healing process. Icing quickly and methodically for short periods for the first 3-5 days following injury is extremely beneficial.