• Shruti GOCHHWAL

How Common Is A Ligament Tear?

We have commonly heard that “This is a ligament tear”. Do you know what it means? Continue reading to know the causes, symptoms, and treatment of ligament tears.

What Are Ligaments?

A ligament is a band of fibrous tissue that connects bone to bone or bone to cartilage. Ligaments are considered to be extremely strong and can be stretched or even torn, which can result in different grades of sprains. The function of ligaments is to support and strengthen the joints. They help in keeping the bones of the skeleton in proper alignment and prevent abnormal movements of the joints.

A ligament tear usually happens due to extreme force to a joint such as a fall or any high-impact event. The common ligament tears are seen in the regions of the ankle, knee, wrist, thumb, neck, or back ligaments.

What Are The Symptoms Of A Ligament Tear?

The symptoms of a ligament tear include

  1. Swelling and bruising

  2. Difficulty in moving the joint normally

  3. Sometimes during an injury, you may feel a tearing sensation

  4. Muscle spasms

Who Are Prone To Ligament Tear?

Ligament tears

Wrestlers, Credits: pixabay


Young boys and men, athletes, and wrestlers are prone to ligament tears as their joints are consistently in action.

Location of Ligament Tear

Ligament tear usually happens during a fall, sudden twisting, or a blow to the body. Ligament tears more commonly happen in the ankles, knees, and wrist. Some of the more common ligament tears include:

Knee Ligament Injuries

Ligament tears

Knee ligament tear, Credits: pixabay


  1. ACL (Anterior cruciate ligament): ACL is the most common ligament to be injured

  2. MCL (medial collateral ligament) or LCL (lateral collateral ligament) sprain

  3. Patella (knee cap) dislocation

Ankle Ligament Injuries

  1. An ankle sprain usually happens in competitive athletes.

  2. Ankle sprain

  3. Achilles tear or rupture

Shoulder Ligament Injuries

  1. Shoulder dislocation

  2. AC joint injury

  3. Rotator cuff tear

  4. Wrist and hand ligament injuries- Finger sprain or thumb sprain

Spinal Ligament Injuries

  1. Neck sprain

  2. Back ligament sprain

  3. Whiplash

  4. Text neck

Sometimes the ligaments in the back can be torn by lifting something heavy.

How Ligament Tears Are Diagnosed?

Ligament tears-Diagnosis

x rays, Credits: pixabay


Ligament tears are identified by a physical examination and medical history. Your doctor examines the site of the injury and asks you what you were doing when you were experiencing the injury. The extent of the injury is identified by moving the joint.

An X-ray examination helps them reveal if the bones are fractured or broken. An MRI may be necessary to check if there is a partial or complete ligament tear. Based on the physical examination and imaging, sprains are gradedlike grade 1 (there is ligament damage but no significant tearing), grade 2 (partial ligament tear), and grade 3 (severe pain with a complete tear of the ligament).

Treatment of Ligament Tears

Ligament tears-Treatment

RICE treatment, Credits: pixabay


The initial treatment plan for a ligament injury is Rest, ice, compression, and elevation (RICE).

Rest

The injured area must not be stressed for one or two days.Do not lift anything with an injured wrist, elbow, or shoulder.

Ice

A short term relief to the injured area is possible by applying cold, which can limit swelling. Place an ice pack on the injured area for 10 minutes every two hours for the first two to three days. Do not place ice directly on the skin and use a thin cloth to wrap the ice.

Compression

To ease the pain, the injured area is wrapped with an elastic band to limit and reduce the overall swelling. Sometimes a compression sleeve can also be used for the specific type of injury.

Elevation

This helps control blood flow to the area and, thus, reduces swelling. Try keeping the injured area above the level of your heart by elevating your leg or arm slightly above you.

The treatment protocol can vary according to the grades of the sprain. A grade 2 sprain may require bracing to allow healing of the partial ligament tear that has happened. Surgery may be required to treat a grade 3 sprain.

Once the pain and swelling are under control, your doctor may advise you to have physical therapy or home exercises. This helps restore the function of the ligament and joint. Depending on the severity of the ligament tear, the recovery time can vary from a few weeks to few months.

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