Ligament injuries refer to sprains and partial or complete tears of ligaments. Ligaments are bands of connective tissues that join two bones, often over a joint. People who are active participants in sports are more likely to experience ligament injuries in their lives, but otherwise normally active people have the potential to experience these injuries as well.
Ligament injuries are commonly felt as sharp pain which may be accompanied by swelling and tenderness that takes time to subside. The pattern of pain and its resolution depends on the nature of the injury to the ligament, as well as the joint over which the ligament is passing. Most of the joints in the human body are supported by ligaments, which act as scaffolding and rigging to maintain stability and optimal movement.
Ligament Injuries are organised by grade of severity. Grade one Ligament Injuries are the least severe, and refer to strains or minor tears of the ligament. Such injuries will be accompanied by a sharp pain which may resolve into a dull, persistent ache that may resolve quickly or slowly, depending on the nature of the injury. Grade one Ligament Injuries generally resolve themselves, though monitoring is needed to ensure they do not worsen.
Grade two Ligament Injuries refer to partial tears of the ligament. In this case, the bundles of connective tissue that compose the ligament become separated, and this is accompanied by pain, swelling, tenderness, and aggravation of pain when the joint becomes unstable. Typically, these Ligament Injuries are managed conservatively through pain and symptom relief followed by a strengthening and balance program, combined with monitoring to minimise the likelihood of complications.
Grade three Ligament Injuries refer to almost total or total separation of the ligament fibers. This is the most severe injury that a ligament may experience, and as a consequence they need to be managed appropriately. Depending on the demands of your life and your desired return to activity, surgical repair of the ligament may be necessary, followed by active rehabilitation that takes place in and out of the clinic.
Management of Ligament Injuries depends on the cause of the pain, how it feels and changes over the day, what makes it better or worse, and the length of time you have been experiencing the pain. All of these factors will be addressed in your initial assessment, which is the first step towards minimising and managing any pain or discomfort. The treatment you receive will be tailored to address the specific cause of your Ligament Injury, and will focus on minimising pain, maximising your ability to move pain free, and developing a plan to minimise the risk of a flare-up in the future.