Have I torn my lateral collateral ligament in my knee. Is surgery always needed?

No, but often. The lateral (fibular) collateral ligament is uncommonly injured, but if it is injured in the setting of other ligament injuries (acl, pcl), it needs to be reconstructed to help prevent the other ligament surgeries from stretching out over time. If it is injured in isolation, it can be treated in a hinged knee brace x 6 wks and may heal on its own. Stress xrays can be used to measure if it heals.