Ligaments are bands of strong, flexible tissue that connect bones together throughout the body. They allow movement between bones, which allows you to do things like flex your foot or move your fingers. When ligaments are stretched or strained beyond normal capacity, they can tear. Common symptoms of ligament tears are pain and swelling. You may also hear or feel a pop when you tear the tissue
There are three grades of ligament injury: grade 1, a mild ligament tear; grade 2, a moderate ligament tear, and grade 3, a complete ligament tear, otherwise known as a rupture.
• Cause extreme pain.
• Happen at any time.
• Limit or prohibit proper joint function.
CAUSES OF LIGAMENT TEAR:
Common causes of ligament tears are twisting body parts or hard or awkward landings. Tears often happen when ligaments are stretched fully and then encounter some form of impact or trauma. Ankle sprains, a mild torn ligament in the ankle, can happen when you are walking or running, land awkwardly, and twist your ankle. The knee and ankle ligaments are weight-bearing ligaments and thus more vulnerable to tearing because they are often under stress. People who engage in sports that involve full contact (like hockey and football) or many changes of direction (like basketball and tennis) are most susceptible to ligament injuries.
COMMON LIGAMENT INJURIES
Orthopaedic specialists like Dr Arunava Lala treat all sorts of ligament injures. Some of the more common ligament tears include:
• Knee ligament injuries, such as:
o ACL tear
o MCL or LCL sprain
o Patella (knee cap) dislocation
• Ankle ligament injuries, such as:
o Ankle sprain
o Achilles tear or rupture
• Shoulder ligament injuries, such as:
o Shoulder dislocation
o AC joint injury
o Rotator cuff tear
• Wrist and hand ligament injuries, such as:
o Finger sprain or thumb sprain
• Spinal ligament injuries, such as:
o Neck sprain
o Back ligament sprain
o Text neck
Two well-known knee tears or injuries are:
1. Anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) tears. The ACL is one of the major ligaments controlling how knee motion occurs. Football and basketball players tend to be at a higher risk for ACL tears, but they can happen to anyone at any time.
When you tear your ACL, the knee becomes unstable. Other symptoms of an ACL tear include a popping sound or feeling in the knee at the time of injury and a great deal of pain
2. Meniscus tears. Our knees each have two menisci. This tough cartilage balances forces through the knee joint, allowing the femur and tibia to glide against each other smoothly without causing damage to the bone. Meniscus tears have two common causes — a traumatic injury to the knee or the process of degeneration. They often occur from twisting a bent knee joint.
Some symptoms of a meniscus tear include:
• Popping or clicking sensation
• Inability to straighten the knee
Diagnosing tendon or ligament tears and ruptures
You should see a doctor immediately after tearing or rupturing a ligament. Swelling can affect the diagnosis of your injury.
To diagnose a tendon or ligament injury or rupture, your doctor will collect your medical history and perform an exam.
He or she will ask you questions such as:
• How and when did the injury happen?
• Did you hear a popping sound?
• How intense is the pain?
• Have you had any previous injuries to the knee?
Your doctor may order an x-ray or MRI to help confirm a diagnosis.
Tendon/Ligament Tear and Rupture Treatments
Tendon and ligament tears or ruptures are painful injuries that require an experienced orthopaedic specialist like Dr Arunava Lala to properly diagnose and treat them.
Choosing the best treatment option will depend on the extent of the tear or rupture, your desired activity level, and other factors.
Nonsurgical treatment for tendon and ligament tears or ruptures
If you don’t intend on resuming your active lifestyle, your doctor may suggest the following nonsurgical treatments:
• Using a brace for a while
• Physical therapy and a slow return to physical activity
• Anti-inflammatory drugs
• RICE therapy
THE RICE THERAPY PROTOCOL
Rest: Don’t bear weight on the injured body part for at least one to two days, and don’t lift anything with an injured wrist, elbow, or shoulder.
Ice: Put ice or a cold pack on the injured area for 10 minutes every 30 minutes to an hour for the first two to three days. Use a damp, thin cloth to wrap the ice; don’t put ice directly on your skin.
Compression: Wrap the injured area with an elastic bandage or use a compression sleeve meant for your specific type of injury.
Elevation: Keep the injured area above the level of your heart. This is easiest to do if you lie down and either elevate your leg or arm slightly above you.
Ligament tear or rupture repair surgery
If you intend on returning to vigorous activities and sports, tendon tear or rupture surgery may be in your best interest.
The goals of ligament surgery are to:
• Provide stability to the affected joint
• Restore range of motion
• Allow you to return to an active lifestyle
LONG-TERM PROGNOSIS AFTER TEARING A LIGAMENT
The long-term prognosis for ligament tears with the proper treatment is good. Level 1 and level 2 sprains will often be fully recovered within three to eight weeks, meaning you should be able to return to your normal activities and have full mobility in that time. More severe injuries may take months to fully recover – especially if surgery and rehabilitation are necessary.