Ligaments are bands of collagen tissue that connect bones to bones. You have approximately 900 ligaments in your body, and their main job is to stabilise a joint and provide sensory information to the brain that is important for mobility. So, if you damage one (Ligament sprains, it could cause quite a few problems!
What is a ligament sprain?
A ligament sprain is usually caused when a joint is suddenly forced beyond its usual range of movement and the ligament fibres are stretched too far. In some cases, the ligament can be torn. This might be the result of falling, twisting, or sustaining a blow to the area.
The most common location for a ligament sprain is the ankle, but they can occur anywhere.
What is the difference between a sprain and a strain?
You might hear these terms used interchangeably by amateur diagnosticians, but sprains affect the ligaments while strains affect muscles and tendons. They both cause pain, though, so it can be difficult to tell the difference when all you know is that it really hurts!
How will I know if I’ve sprained a ligament?
Sprains can look and feel like a break, particularly if they are severe, so it can be difficult to tell the difference between the two.
You will likely experience:
- Limited and/or excessive movement of a joint
Some patients report hearing or feeling a “pop” at the time of the injury.
What should I do about it?
You’ll need POLICE – no, not the ones in blue uniforms, these ones:
Protection – avoid further damage to the area through rest and, if necessary, specialist equipment
Optimal Loading – early movement to stimulate healing
Ice – applying an ice pack for 10 minutes can reduce swelling and relieve pain
Compression – the use of a compression bandage can help to avoid further swelling
Elevation – keeping the area raised reduces swelling and allows waste removal from the injury site
A physiotherapist will be able to help you with all of this, as well as supporting you with hands on treatment, exercises, and equipment to relieve pain, restore movement and prevent future injuries. So, your first port of call should be to book an appointment to get diagnosed early and start the recovery process with as little time wasted as possible.