In sports, not only our muscles, tendons and ligaments, but also our joints are stressed. Each joint is enveloped by a capsule. A wrong movement can lead to a violation of this capsule. Capsule tears are particularly common in the fingers and toes, as well as in the knee and ankle joints. Typical symptoms that indicate a capsule tear are severe pain, marked swelling of the joint and bruising.
Causes of capsule rupture
The joint capsule together with the ligaments ensures the stability of a joint. It is composed of two different layers: The inner capsule ensures that our movements can function smoothly by producing synovial fluid. The outer capsule protects the inner layer.
If the sport experiences a sudden, extreme movement that overstretches or steers the joint in a direction in which it is not actually able to move, it can not only lead to ligament injuries, but also to a capsule injury. Capsule tears are often caused by kinking, a fall or a badly hit ball. But even external influences such as a blow or a kick can result in a capsule tear. In addition, an internal ligament tear can cause a capsule injury in the knee. Because the inner band is fused with the joint capsule.
Capsular tear symptoms
A capsule tear is the moment of injury from a sharp pain, which later assumes a vibrant character. Another typical symptom is the strong swelling of the affected joint: The swelling is caused by the joint fluid flowing out of the injured capsule.
Often, a capsule tear also forms a bruise (hematoma), which results from the injury of smaller vessels. The bruise can lead to limited mobility of the joint. In rare cases, another symptom is cracking while moving the joint.
Diagnosis of capsule injuries often difficult
Diagnosing a capsule tear is not always easy. Because overstretching of the joint can also lead to other injuries, such as torn ligaments or ligaments. An X-ray usually does not clarify exactly whether ligaments or capsules are injured.
With the help of an ultrasound examination, a ligament injury can be excluded. If there is still uncertainty about the type of injury after the ultrasound, the doctor can perform a magnetic resonance therapy (MRI).
Treat a capsule tear: the PECH rule
An acute capsule tear should first be treated according to the PECH rule:
- Break: The affected joint should be spared in the next few days and weeks as possible.
- Ice: In order to relieve the pain and avoid excessive swelling of the joint, acute injuries should be cooled for about 20 minutes.
- Compression: A compression bandage can also help prevent the affected joint from swelling too much.
- Lifting: In order to prevent excessive blood circulation of the injured tissue, the affected body part should be stored as often as possible.
If the capsule tear causes severe pain, a pain reliever can be taken. However, blood-thinning agents such as acetylsalicylic acid should be avoided as they promote blood circulation in the tissue.
Healing process takes several weeks
If there is a suspicion that a capsule tear is present, always consult a doctor who can safely diagnose the injury. In order for the injury to heal quickly, the joint is usually immobilized by the doctor. If it is moved too early again, this can lead to a permanent restriction of the room for maneuver. Partly, however, a targeted movement of the joint is recommended today to reduce the bruise faster. The exercise training should then be done only under the guidance of a physiotherapist.
In a capsule tear, it usually takes at least six weeks for the injury to finally heal. By cooling and decongestant drugs, the healing process can be positively influenced. Sometimes, however, it happens that after healing of the capsular tear, the mobility of the joint remains limited. Especially in the fingers, it is not uncommon for the capsule to remain thickened. In the long term, a capsular tear can also cause joint arthrosis.