It is necessary in this context to differentiate between treatment of acute symptoms and subsequent treatment. Acute symptoms should be treated by way of first aid by cooling the swelling so that it subsides. Between around 15 and 20 minutes are usually adequate in this connection. The injured area should also be rested in an elevated position. Such a position also reduces the flow of blood and relieves the pain. It is also recommended that a compression bandage be applied. A doctor should then be involved for subsequent treatment, if only because a layperson can often not tell a torn ligament apart from a sprain. The doctor will then decide whether an operation is necessary or whether the ligament tear can be healed using non-invasive, conservative methods. If surgical measures are necessary, the affected ligaments can either be rejoined or possibly replaced by other tendons in the body. Conservative treatments are performed by consistent exercises and muscular training. Other potential options are bandaging and possibly plaster-casting for stability.
The healing process of the torn ligament itself – whether conservative or surgical methods are applied – requires a healthy portion of patience. However, this process involves not only potentially the need for physiotherapeutic exercises – improving blood flow also plays a key role. Effective blood circulation improves the supply of nutrients to the affected tissue and reduces inflammation, enabling it to support the healing process after a ligament rupture massively. The use of BEMER Physical Vascular Therapy is particularly well-suited to this purpose.
The Excruciating Pain of Torn Ligaments
One unfortunate movement, and the damage may already be done – torn ligaments! This is not something that just sportspeople suffer from particularly frequently. In other walks of life and in other activities, torn ligaments – also known as ruptured ligaments – are not uncommon. Why is this? The ligaments consist of taut connective tissue, are normally extremely strong and serve to stabilize the joints. However, sudden movements (for example, when running with high heels, tripping from a curb, or running on uneven surfaces) can cause a ligament to tear. And while the proverbial wisdom that you can rupture a ligament with the smallest movements is somewhat overstated, it's also not all that far from the truth. There is no doubt that torn ligaments are one of the most common sporting injuries to occur when playing soccer, basketball, or squash. Among the known causes are a twisting of the knee or of the foot, things that occur often when playing soccer, for example. It is often the abrupt twist that causes a ligament to be so heavily overstretched that its fibers are pulled to breaking point. The joint can still be moved, but sadly only in certain directions. Breaking these limits can quickly cause a ligament to tear. The sufferer will notice the acute symptoms extremely quickly, because a ligament rupture will be followed by sudden and intense pain that re-occurs whenever the area is put under further strain. Effusions are also frequent, not uncommonly causing swelling with possible bruising. The improper loads and postures will also almost always cause damage to other areas of the musculoskeletal structure.
Typical types of Ligament Rupture
- Rupture of the lateral ligament in the high ankle (sprain),
- Collateral ligament rupture in the knee,
- Cruciate ligament rupture in the knee,
- Ligament rupture in the elbow,
- Ligament rupture in the thumb,
- Carpal ligament rupture.
Rupture of the lateral ligament in the high ankle (sprain):
The high ankle connects the foot with the lower leg. Several ligaments stabilize the ankle. The lateral ligament comprises three elements: Firstly, the lateral ligament running from the fibula to the ankle and then to the heel bone. Then there is a ligament on the medial malleolus and a ligament that connects the tibia to the fibula. A rupture of the lateral ligament in the high ankle is among the most common ligament ruptures caused by sporting activities (around 20 percent of all sporting injuries). Such a ligament tear is usually caused by the foot twisting inwards.
Collateral ligament rupture in the knee:
A rupture of the collateral ligament in the knee is the tearing of the lateral or medial ligament or both. The knee itself has not only muscles and tendons but also the medial and lateral ligaments used to stabilize the knee joint. In the event of a torn collateral ligament, one or both ligaments are ruptured, causing the knee joint to lose stability. The collateral ligaments will often completely tear. The cause is usually a fast and sudden movement of the knee. Collateral ligament ruptures of the knee frequently occur when engaged in sport. But people who move less and are also obese are more at risk of suffering from a torn collateral ligament in the knee. Poor blood circulation in the tissue is also a risk factor. Ruptures of the collateral ligament in the knee are extremely painful. The rupture is visibly recognizable as a result of the effusion of the torn ligaments. Here, blood flows into the tissue around the knee joint, causing it to swell up, which in turn causes bruising to appear around the knee.
Cruciate ligament rupture in the knee:
The word "cruciate" in the name "cruciate ligament" is an indication of how these ligaments are arranged – in a cross shape. There is both an anterior (front) and posterior (rear) cruciate ligament. They connect the upper leg with the lower leg in the knee. The anterior cruciate ligament runs from the anterior tibial head to the lateral femur, while the posterior cruciate ligament runs from the posterior tibial head to the medial femur. The purpose of the anterior cruciate ligament is to prevent the lower leg from sliding forward ahead of the upper leg. The purpose of the posterior cruciate ligament, on the other hand, is to limit the movements of the lower leg to the rear. Ruptures of the cruciate ligament in the knee are generally sudden twists of the knee joint while under load. Such ligament ruptures are among the typical sporting injuries that can occur even without the impact of an opposing player.
Ligament rupture in the elbow:
The elbow consists of three bones (the radius, the ulna and the humerus) as well as the muscles, tendons and ligaments that connect these. Physically, the purpose of the elbow is to position the hand and carry loads. An injury (for example among sportspeople engaging in sports when the elbow is put under strain such as tennis or golf) can cause a ligament in the elbow to be ruptured. But even a fall while the arm is stretched out, or a fall that causes a sudden twist in the elbow can bring about a rupture of the ligament. Moreover, it is not uncommon for tendons and ligaments to rupture for no special reason over the course of life, even when the joint is used normally. This is particularly the case when there is poor blood flow over a longer period.
Ligament rupture in the thumb:
Frequently, a ligament in the thumb will tear as a result of force applied, for example when it causes the thumb to spread excessively. As this is a not uncommon occurrence among skiers when falling, this type of ligament rupture has also been named "skier's thumb". But ligament ruptures of the thumb are also common in ball sports such as handball or volleyball, and also in martial arts. Ligament ruptures of the thumb are also possible if a person gets their thumb caught in something while moving. Tearing a ligament in the thumb usually affects the collateral ligament of the thumb. Thumb ligament ruptures are apparent by the pain and swelling they cause – the patient will often hear a noticeable cracking sound when the injury is incurred. Afterwards, the thumb will not be as stable as before the injury, and can be folded out further than normal. It is also different to grip properly using the thumb, and even trying to do so is painful.
Carpal ligament rupture:
The carpal bones located in the carpus are stabilized by means of a complex structure of ligaments. This stability is partly necessary to prevent improper loads on the surfaces of the joint, and to enable the wrist to be put under load without pain in any position. Injuries to the carpal ligaments result in instability and will subsequently result in the premature wearing of the wrist. Carpal ligament ruptures are usually caused by accidents where the person falls on their hand. An untreated carpal ligament rupture will cause structural instability in the carpus, and among other things the development of carpal arthrosis. Pain and swelling around the wrist are typical for a carpal ligament rupture. The mobility of the wrist is generally also impaired.