A ligament is a flexible tissue that acts as the binding force between bone and muscle. Ligaments are capable of withstanding high amounts of pressure, however, a torn ligament is not an uncommon injury. Most torn ligaments occur during sports activities, with the knee and ankle joints being the high-risk joints.
Causes Of A Torn Ligament
Source: Joint Preservation
Most often torn ligament occurs as a result of twisting and turning awkwardly, bad landings after a jump while making tackles like in soccer, snowboarding or even dancing.
During these situations, the joint is stretched beyond the norm causing the ligament to tear away from the joint.
Depending on the severity of the tear it can be categorized as:
- Mild ligament tear (Grade 1)
- Moderate ligament tear (Grade 2)
- Complete ligament tear (Grade 3)
Like we mentioned above, your knees and ankles are the most vulnerable as they are the most weight bearing joints and are constantly under pressure, especially during contact sports.
Below are the symptoms you need to watch for in case of a torn ligament:
- Swelling and bruising near the affected joint.
- This is accompanied by pain which tends to multiply every time the joint is brought into play.
- In case of the leg, the pain and tenderness may occur around the arch of your foot,
- Difficulty in performing day to day activities such as walking, running etc.
In most cases, an X-Ray or MRI will be needed to determine the severity of the injury.
Types Of Torn Ligaments And Treatment
Healing time and treatment of the injury depends on its severity:
Mild Ligament Tear
In the case of a mild tear, the recovery is 5-6 weeks. That’s how long it takes for the collagen fibers to get back to full strength but only when treated properly.
Ensure you are icing the joint twice a day for 15-20 minutes. Also, avoid any strenuous activities and take anti-inflammatory medicine if prescribed.
Furthermore, you can speed up recovery with electrical modalities, massage, and exercise which should only be done with the guidance of a physical therapist.
Moderate Ligament Tear
Layoff during a moderate ligament tear is longer and movement restricted. Recovery can take 3-4 months and early treatment usually requires you to wear a weight-bearing brace or have supportive taping around the joint. The brace helps manage the pain and prevents accidental stretching.
Physiotherapy is a must is such cases as it not only speeds up recovery but also strengthens the ligaments and joints so you’re not back on the stretcher anytime soon.
Complete Ligament Tear
This is the most severe tear and can keep you out of action for 12-15 months depending on the mode of treatment. Whether or not a surgery is required is decided by the orthopaedist after an X-Ray or MRI.
Non-surgical methods include wearing a brace, icing the affected joint and also ensuring bed rest as to avoid any stress on the joint.
How To Strengthen Your Ligaments
Strengthening your ligaments is a natural process that is improved with strength exercising and stretching. During workouts the body fibers tend to tear and the ligaments naturally develop additional fibers, in turn, strengthening the ligaments. It is advised to work with a physical therapist or personal trainer to ensure proper instruction and strength building.