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Knee braces for lateral collateral ligament (LCL) injuries – What works best

Updated: Feb 12

Not all lateral collateral ligament injuries need a knee brace. Learn which LCL injuries require a brace, which type of knee brace is best and when to wear it, and which types of brace to avoid. Remember, if you need more help with an injury, you're welcome to consult one of our physios online via video call.


The best lateral collateral ligament knee brace.

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In this article:



Do I need a brace for my LCL sprain or tear?


Grade 1 LCL tears usually don’t need a brace. If you have a Grade 2 or 3 tear, a brace is necessary to help stabilise the ligament to allow it to heal. You can learn more about how to assess and grade LCL injuries here.


How a brace helps the lateral collateral ligament to heal


The main job of the LCL is to limit your knee’s side-to-side movement and to prevent it from gapping or turning too far out. Once injured, the LCL loses some of its strength, and it’s quite easy to injure it further just through normal day-to-day activities.


The right type of brace will support and protect your injured LCL. It will still allow you knee to bend and straighten within the safe range (this is important to optimise healing) while stopping it from moving too much side-to-side and straining the already injured LCL.


A hinged knee brace, with metal rods on the side are best for collateral ligament injuries.
A hinged knee brace with metal rods on the side is best for collateral ligament injuries.

What type of brace should you get?


The best type of brace for LCL tears is one that:

  • Has metal or carbon rods on the sides to prevent side-to-side movement.

  • Has a hinge that allows the knee to bend and straighten. If you have a Grade 3 LCL tear, you will likely need one with a hinge that can be locked at 0 degrees (fully straight leg) for the first couple of weeks.

  • Extends to about the middle of the thigh and the lower leg and fits securely so it stays in place.

Examples available on Amazon:


These braces are no good


Don’t use the following types:

  • Soft knee braces or sleeves. They don’t provide enough stability.

  • Rigid knee braces without a hinge. It is important for recovery to be able to bend and straighten your knee while wearing the brace. In most cases, the longest a knee should be immobilised fully straight is 2 weeks, and this is only if you have a Grade 3 LCL tear.



When to wear your brace


If you have a Grade 2 LCL tear, you will likely be told to wear your knee brace for 6 weeks, while Grade 3 tears usually need a brace for 8 weeks. If you also have other knee injuries, you may be given different guidelines.


During this period, it is usually best to wear your brace whenever you stand, walk, or do your exercises. You may also have to wear it in bed depending on your specific case. Your doctor or physiotherapist should be able to advise on what is right for you.


How we can help


Need more help with your injury? You’re welcome to consult one of the team at SIP online via video call for an assessment of your injury and a tailored treatment plan.

The Sports Injury Physio team

We're all UK Chartered Physiotherapists with Master’s Degrees related to Sports & Exercise Medicine or at least 10 years' experience in the field. But at Sports Injury Physio we don't just value qualifications; all of us also have a wealth of experience working with athletes across a broad variety of sports, ranging from recreationally active people to professional athletes. You can meet the team here.

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Maryke Louw

About the Author

Maryke Louw is a chartered physiotherapist with more than 20 years' experience and a Master’s Degree in Sports Injury Management. Follow her on LinkedIn and ResearchGate.



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