Men's Articles

Torn Ligament - Sprain


A torn ligament, also known as a sprain, is an overstretching or tear of the bank of fibrous tissues that connects bone to bone or cartilage to bone. It is almost always the result of a sudden force, typically a twisting motion, that the surrounding muscles are not strong enough to control. Like strains (pulled muscles), sprains can range from minor tears to complete ruptures.

But sprains take longer to heal and can throw bones out of alignment, causing damage to surrounding tissues. Therefore, sprains are more serious than strains. A ruptured ligament requires medical attention. Ligaments have a poor blood supply, and torn ligaments require as much healing time as fractures.

An ankle sprain is probably the most common sports injury, probably because of its construction and the fact that it must support your entire body weight. The knee is also extremely vulnerable; it absorbs twisting stretches every time the body rotates from the hips. The most common activities that involve the sudden twists or stop-and-start movements, during which ankle and knee sprains occur, include dancing, tennis, soccer, hiking on rough terrain, and downhill skiing.

As with strains, sprains can be protected against with good strength conditioning exercises and stretching techniques. Strong, flexible muscles in the areas surrounding the ankles and knees, as well as the quadriceps, the muscle group along the front of the thigh, help protect against sprains. After a sprain, taping the vulnerable area, or wearing an elastic bandage or brace, will reinforce the injured area to prevent reinjury.

An ankle sprain is a stretching and slight to partial tearing of one or more ligaments of the ankle (grade 1 or grade 2), or a severe injury to the ankle in which one or more ligaments are stretched and totally torn (grade 3). Signs and symptoms of an ankle sprain include ankle pain at the time of injury (severe pain, grades 2 and 3); a feeling of popping or tearing in the outer part of the ankle; tenderness at the injury site (severe tenderness, grades 2 and 3); loss of function with loss of joint stability; swelling in the ankle; and bruising (grade 1 bruising can appear several hours later; grades 2 and 3 are more immediate).

In the case of a mild sprain (grade 1), treatment includes R.I.C.E. (rest, ice, compression, and elevation), and massage to provide comfort and decrease swelling. See your doctor if discomfort is great or does not improve within 24 hours. A doctor's care is needed for treatment of moderate and severe ankle sprains (grades 2 and 3), and a walking cast may be required.

After the cast is removed, whirlpool and ultrasound treatments and/or physical therapy may be necessary. Recovery for a mild sprain (grade 1) takes about 5-7 days to allow modified activity, with complete healing in an average of 6 weeks. A moderate sprain (grade 2) requires an average of 6-10 weeks to heal completely, and a severe sprain (grade 3) 12-16 weeks.

A knee sprain is a violent overstretching of one or more ligaments in the knee. If the sprain involves two or more ligaments, considerably more disability will result than with single-ligament sprains. If the ligament pulls loose a fragment of bone, it is called a sprain-fracture. There are three types of knee sprains: Mild (grade 1) - tearing of some of the ligament fibers with no loss of function; Moderate (grade 2) - rupture of a portion of the ligament, which results in some loss of function; and Severe (grade 3) - complete rupture of the ligament or complete separation of the ligament from the bone, with total loss of function. A severe sprain requires surgical repair.

Signs and symptoms of a knee sprain include severe pain at the time of injury; a feeling of popping or tearing inside the knee; tenderness at the injury site; swelling in the knee; and bruising that appears soon after the injury. The treatment for a knee sprain depends on its severity and diagnosis by a doctor is necessary.

The doctor may apply a splint from the ankle to the groin to immobilize the sprained knee. Rehabilitation should begin with daily exercises when the cast or supportive wrapping is no longer necessary, and physical therapy may be recommended for moderate and severe sprains. Average healing time for mild sprains (grade 1) is 2-6 weeks, moderate sprains (grade 2) 6-8 weeks, and severe sprains (grade 3) 8 weeks to 10 months.

A wrist sprain is a violent overstretching of one or more ligaments in the wrist joint. As with ankle and knee sprains, there are three types of wrist sprains: Mild (grade 1) - tearing of some of the ligament fibers with no loss of function; Moderate (grade 2) - rupture of a portion of the ligament, which results in some loss of function; and Severe (grade 3) - complete rupture of the ligament or complete separation of the ligament from the bone, with total loss of function. A severe sprain requires surgical repair.

Signs and symptoms of a wrist sprain include severe pain at the time of injury; a feeling of popping or tearing inside the wrist; tenderness at the injury site; swelling in the wrist; and bruising that appears soon after the injury. The treatment for a wrist sprain includes care by a doctor who may apply a cast, tape, or elastic bandage, and physical therapy with moderate or severe sprains. Rehabilitation should begin with daily exercises when the cast or supportive wrapping is no longer necessary. Average healing time for a mild wrist sprain is 2-6 weeks, for a moderate wrist sprain 6-8 weeks, and for a severe sprain 8-10 weeks.

 

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