LCL & PLC Tear

Knee Conditions

LCL & PLC Tear 

Tears in the lateral collateral ligament (LCL) and the posterolateral corner (PLC) of the knee are unpleasant injuries, but with expert medical care, you should soon be back on your feet. Find out more about those parts of the knee, LCL and PLC tears, and how we treat them at Sports Med Clinic London. 

 

Important Parts Of The Knee 

The LCL and PLC play important roles in keeping your knee stable when you move, so injuries to them are understandably serious. The LCL runs from the thighbone, along the outer side of the knee, to the thin bone that is parallel to the shinbone, known as the fibula.  

The ligament helps stabilise the knee against loads where the knee moves outwards while the shinbone and foot move inwards (varus loads). The LCL also helps keep the knee stable in side-to-side movements. 

The PLC was once known as the dark side of the knee. Comprised of 28 separate parts, it is anatomically complex, but that is not all. The PLC is also functionally complex, as it: 

  • Contributes to stability when you are standing still or moving 
  • Contributes to stability in varus loads 
  • Helps prevent over-extending the knee (excessive hyperextension) 
  • Helps prevent the lower leg from turning excessively outwards (tibial external rotation) 

 

LCL and PLC tears are not as common as ACL and other knee injuries, and they often require surgical treatment. Approximately 16% of knee ligament injuries are PLC tears and other injuries.  

 

Injuries And Symptoms 

LCL injuries are usually part of a multi-ligament injury that may also include the PLC. LCL and PLC tears are usually caused by a direct blow to the knee. They can also be caused by over-extending or twisting the knee. 

Strong force can stretch and tear ligaments and tendons, and it can cause injuries to cartilage in different places. The symptoms include pain, tenderness, and swelling. Our specialist will ask you about the injury, perform a physical examination and may also send you for x-rays or an MRI scan to diagnose tears in your LCL and PLC. 

LCL and PLC Repair Page

 

Non-Surgical And Surgical Treatment 

If your LCL has not torn through or it is not part of a larger injury, our specialist may recommend non-surgical treatment such as a brace, crutches, and using anti-inflammatory medication (NSAIDs).  

If you have LCL and PLC tears, our specialist may recommend surgical treatment. This usually is a lateral knee reconstruction, which includes using tissue grafts to replace the torn ligaments. The grafts are attached to the thighbone and fibula using bioabsorbable screws. 

Read on below for more information about treatment for LCL and PLC tears at Sports Med London. 

 

 

Technical Information:

What is the LCL and what is the PLC? 

The LCL (Lateral Collateral Ligament)  is a thin cord-like ligament that runs on the lateral (outer-side) of the knee from the femur to the top of the fibula (thin strut bone that runs parallel to the tibia).  The LCL is responsible for stabilising the knee in side -to side movements and against varus loads (where the knee goes outwards but the tibia and foot move inwards towards the midline). Ruptures of the LCL are frequently associated with damage to the Posterolateral Corner (PLC) , and often require surgical reconstruction or repair. 

A missed PLC tear may be a reason for a poor outcome after isolated reconstruction of the ACL, as the ACL reconstruction on its own will not correct the rotational instability caused by deficiency of the PLC. PLC injuries also occur frequently in association with PCL injuries. Deficiency of the PLC with significant rotational instability is an indication for surgical reconstruction.