How Long is Recovery After LCL Surgery (And Why)?

Exact Answer: Six Months

An LCL or lateral collateral ligament injury is a very common condition that occurs after having sustained a direct blow towards the inside of the knee. There could be various reasons that this injury might happen.

Most probably it happens in high-risk sports such as football, basketball, hockey to name a few. And when it happens, there occurs a breaking of ligaments because of being stretched too far.

People are often concerned about the time as to when they will be fully recovered from this injury. Here you will get the answer to this.

How Long is Recovery After LCL Surgery?

LCL injury is a lot more common condition than we think it to be. And in most cases, the patient fully recovers from it in about six months.

LCL reconstruction surgery is usually an open surgery and the patient is given a dose of general anesthesia. The patients are generally allowed to go back home on the day of the surgery itself. However, some patients might have to stay for some duration for monitoring.

Physical therapy is usually needed which lasts for about four to six weeks after surgery. And in total, a duration of 6 months is required to recover fully from this injury.

In case you are wondering, crutches will definitely be your friend for 3 weeks or so. Some painkillers would also be included in your medication list no doubt. In the recovery phase, the main thing is to increase your strength and flexibility level and also, to help restore your balance.

If the patient needs to get back to some vigorous activity level, 6 months is the minimum time he needs to recover fully.

Also, before the surgery, the doctor gives guidelines such as stop smoking, not take any anti-inflammatory medication a week prior to surgery. Also, to inform him of any ailments within the week of surgery.

Stages of LCL InjuryTime of Recovery
Grade 1At least a week
Grade 2 (non-operative)1 month
Grade 3 (requires surgery)6 months

Why Does it Take So Long to Recover After LCL Surgery?

As mentioned earlier, it takes around 6 months to recover fully from this injury. The knee contains 4 major ligaments. LCL or lateral collateral ligament is one of them. It runs along the exterior of the knee, connecting the femur to the fibula. An injury caused over here definitely takes a long time (almost 6 months).

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There are various symptoms like swelling, stiffness, bruising, tenderness around the ligament, and many times, a sensation of locking of the knee. And the time duration of the recovery mostly depends on the severity of the symptoms.

For instance, in grade 1 of the LCL injury, the ligament does not tear down. Instead, it just has mild pain and swelling which recovers within a short time period (a week or two).

In grade 2, the knee ligament is partially torn. Along with it comes moderate pain, swelling, instability of the knee. The skin around the LCL suffers certain bruises. This can/cannot be treated using the non-operative method. Takes usually a longer time.

Grade 3 involves complete tearing of the ligament. The only way to cure this is by undergoing surgery. The symptoms include instability of the joints, major swelling, a lot of bruising, the person could hardly put weight on the leg. Recovering from this takes almost 6 months.

You may prevent such injuries from happening. Wondering how? Just carry on with regular exercising (stretching and strength training) to strengthen your knee and leg. Warming up before any intense workout or physical activities.

Conclusion

In a nutshell, one may say that it usually takes 6 months to recover from an LCL injury. However, the recovery time period also depends on the grade of injury caused. Grade 1 & Grade 2 does not take much time. Grade 3 injury somehow takes 6-7 months.

A thing you can do is, in any case, be under the guidance of a doctor. Remember, not to rush. The healing process will take time. Once you feel no pain in your knees, you may consult a doctor and then you can easily continue with your regular activities.  

References

  1. https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s10439-020-02459-3
  2. https://healthfully.com/lateral-collateral-ligament-pain-from-running-8144441.html

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