Ligament Injuries

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Ligament Injuries

Ligament Injuries

When a ligament is overstretched or torn, it results in what’s technically known as a sprain. Many sprains happen suddenly, either from a fall, awkward movement, or blow.

Sprains commonly happen in the ankle, knee, or wrist. For example, a misstep can cause you to twist your ankle in an awkward position, snapping a ligament and causing your ankle to be unstable or wobbly. You might hear a pop or feel a tear when the injury occurs. A wrist is often sprained when you reach out your extended hand to break a fall, only to have the wrist hyperextend back. That hyperextension overstretches the ligament.

Symptoms of a sprained ligament generally include pain, swelling, and bruising in the affected area. The joint may feel loose or weak and may not be able to bear weight. The intensity of your symptoms will vary depending on whether the ligament is overextended or actually torn.

Doctors classify sprains by grades, from grade 1 (a mild sprain with slight stretching of the ligament) to grade 3 (a complete tear of the ligament that makes the joint unstable).

Common treatment for ligament injuries

  • Rest: Try to keep your injured body part immobilized until healing is well underway. This may be easier with the use of immobilization braces and crutches, if needed.
  • Ice: Wrap ice in a towel to protect the skin and then ice the injured area for 20 minutes at a time, several times a day, while you recover.
  • Compression: Reduce swelling by wearing a compression bandage. Wrap the bandage so it’s snug but not uncomfortably tight.
  • Elevation: Keeping your injured body part higher than your heart can help reduce swelling and promote healing.
  • Medication: Over-the-counter anti-inflammatories and pain relievers, taken as needed, may help reduce your pain and swelling.