Rehabilitation Your Ligament Injuries

The ligaments in our body connect one bone to another, hold them in line and keep our joints intact. If these ligaments become damaged (sprained/torn), pain and joint instability will occur depending upon the severity of the injury. Some common sports injuries include sprained ankles and wrists, not to mention torn ligaments in the knees. The key to proper treatment is determining which ligaments are damaged and to what extent.

Knee Ligament Injuries

In sports, the knee is the most important joint in the body and is unfortunately an area commonly injured. The knee joint contains four ligaments that are susceptible to injury. These are the ACL (anterior cruciate ligament), MCL (medial collateral ligament), PCL (posterior cruciate ligament), and the LCL (lateral collateral ligament). They all connect the thigh bone to different bones in the lower leg. These ligaments can be damaged in any number of ways: twisting of the knee, extending the need to far, trauma to the knee, and jumping and landing in an awkward manner. According to WebMD.com, symptoms of a knee ligament injury are: sudden and severe pain, a loud pop or snap during the injury, swelling, a feeling of looseness in the joint, and the inability to put weight on the point of injury without pain. X-rays and MRI exams and determine the extent of the injury. Sprains of any of these ligaments can follow the regiment of rest, icing, compression, and elevation. Partial or complete tears of any of these ligaments may require surgery. The use of a knee brace can help with support and stability after injury. These braces range from just a neoprene sleeve to having hinged joints on the inside and outside of the knee to provide more stability and prevent further damage. Exercises to strengthen the muscles around the joint will help the stability in the knee. Below is a diagram of the knee and its ligaments.

Knee Ligament Injury

Ankle Ligament Injuries

Anyone who has played sports, or even ran, has probably sprained or turned their ankle. There are two groups of ligaments in the ankle: the lateral collateral ligaments and the medial collateral ligaments. Each group is made up of 4-5 ligaments to prevent plantar flexion, dorsiflexion, and abduction in the joint. The most common injury to the ankle is an inversion (lateral) ankle sprain. This is when the ankle gets rolled to the outside and the lateral ligaments become stretched or even torn. The other type of injury to the ankle is an eversion (medial) ankle sprain, an overstretching of the medial ligaments. The damage to the ligaments is graded 1-3, with 1 being the least severe. These injuries are treated with compression wraps, ice, and heat pads. Below is a diagram of the ankle and its ligaments. An orthopedic walking boot and crutches can help alleviate pain and expedite healing.

Ankle Ligament Injuries

Other Ligaments

Throughout the body there are many other ligaments. They too can become overstretched and even torn completely. While they are located in different parts of the body, they too follow the same healing/rehabilitation procedures. Whether they are stretched, partially torn, or completely torn the practice of R.I.C.E. (rest, ice, compression, elevation) should be applied when recovering from ligament injuries. Splints, braces, air casts, and elastic compression bandages all help support joints and ligaments while they are healing.

 

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