As the tissue that connects one bone to another, ligaments attach to both sides of a joint in order to provide stability and protection. When a ligament is stretched or torn, it is referred to as a sprain and can cause significant pain and discomfort. Though it is most common in the ankle, a ligament sprain can also occur in the knee, wrist, and thumb.
SYMPTOMS OF LIGAMENT SPRAINS
Though a sprain can exhibit a variety of symptoms, some of the most common are:
- Extreme pain and discomfort
- Inflammation and bruising
- Decreased mobility
- A “popping” sound or sensation at the time of the trauma or injury
- The inability to put any amount of weight on the injured joint
- Numbness and tingling in the affected area
CAUSES OF LIGAMENT SPRAINS
The most common cause of a ligament sprain is injury or trauma. This can occur through participation in sports, exercise, running, walking, or due to a fall or accident. Any activity that entails bearing the weight of one’s body on a joint presents an increased risk of ligament injury. Even though younger and more active individuals have the highest risk of obtaining a sprain, older individuals, who have decreased muscle mass and bone strength, are also at risk.
Evaluating and properly diagnosing a ligament sprain necessitates a thorough examination by an experienced orthopedic specialist. There are a number of treatments available for ligament sprains based on the severity of the injury as well as on the patient’s age, health, and lifestyle. For less severe sprains, anti-inflammatory medications, a splint, rest, and ice to reduce swelling may be sufficient. Possible interventions may include therapy, medications or bracing and may differ between knee, wrist, and finger sprains. In more severe cases where the ligament has been torn, a more invasive form of treatment may be needed to help restore the ligament.