Diagnosis of ligament strain
In order to rule out a severe ligament injury such as torn ligaments, a doctor should always be consulted for pain on the ligaments. Even before the visit to the doctor, the absence of bruising as well as a slight swelling of the affected area may already be the first indications of a ligament strain.
Different types of diagnosis
By palpation of the joint as well as certain functional and stability tests, the attending physician can determine the clinical picture more accurately. However, such functional tests can not always provide 100% reliable statements. Therefore, imaging techniques such as x-ray or magnetic resonance imaging are sometimes used for diagnosis. The latter is often performed in ligament injuries in the knee.
Treat ligament extension according to the PECH rule
A ligament strain can - just like all other ligament injuries - best treated according to the PECH rule:
- P (pause): If ligament extension is present, the affected joint should be spared extensively to allow a quick healing process.
- E (ice): The injured knee, shoulder, hand or ankle should be cooled immediately after injury with ice or cold water. However, a cooling pack must never come into direct contact with the skin - otherwise frostbite may occur. Cooling relieves the pain and prevents swelling of the joint.
- C (Compression): Applying a compression bandage also helps to prevent over-swelling of the affected joint.
- H (lofting): If the ankle or knee joint is stretched, the affected leg should be stored as often as possible.
Ligament extension: duration of the healing process
If there is an extension of the ligaments, the healing process usually lasts no longer than one to two weeks. During this time, the affected joint should be spared extensively and be completely dispensed with sports. Only when the swelling has subsided and the pain subsided, may be started again with the training. Otherwise, the typical symptoms of ligament strain can return quickly - usually the injury hurts even more than before.
While sportive activities in the healing phase should be better avoided, everyday burdens are usually possible. However, caution should be exercised when loading the joint causes severe pain. In order to provide additional support to the joint and to prevent re-stretching of the ligaments, it is advisable to wear a stabilizing bandage during the healing process.
If the pain of the ligament extension has subsided, you can start training again slowly. Too long or hard training, however, should be avoided immediately after healing the injury. If complaints occur again during training, a doctor should be consulted.
Beware of the late effects of ligament distension
If you have often had problems with injuries to the ligaments, it is advisable to additionally stabilize the respective joint during sports by wearing a support stocking. Corresponding bandages are available for the ankle joint, knee joint, elbow joint and wrist. Also, in sports, an overload of the muscles should be avoided, since it is particularly common in tired state to ligament strains due to missteps.
If ligament extension or torn ligament does not completely heal, long-term instability may occur in the affected joint. Then even a small misstep can lead to a renewed ligament injury. Also, the premature emergence of osteoarthritis may be a consequence of an incompletely healed ligamentous dilation.