Treatment of a sprained ligament

Treatment of a sprained ligament

Diagnosis of a stretched ligament

To rule out a severe ligament injury, such as a ruptured ligament, a doctor should always be consulted if there is pain in the ligament apparatus. Before you go to the doctor, the absence of a bruise and only slight swelling of the affected area can provide the first indications of ligament strain.


Different types of diagnosis

By palpating the joint and performing specific function and stability tests, the doctor treating you can more precisely determine the clinical picture. However, such functional tests cannot always provide 100% reliable statements. For this reason, imaging methods such as an X-ray examination or magnetic resonance imaging are sometimes used for diagnosis. The latter is often performed for ligament injuries in the knee.

Treat stretched ligaments according to the PECH rule.

A stretched ligament – ​​just like any other ligament injury – is best treated according to the PICK rule:

  • P (pause): If a ligament strain occurs, the affected joint should be rested extensively to enable quick healing.
  • E (Ice): The injured knee, shoulder, wrist, or ankle should be cooled with ice or cold water immediately after the injury. However, an excellent pack must never come into direct contact with the skin – otherwise, frostbite can occur. The cooling relieves the pain and prevents the joint from swelling too much.
  • C (Compression): Applying a compression bandage will also help prevent the affected joint from swelling too much.
  • H (elevation): In ligament strains in the ankle or knee joint, the affected leg should be elevated as often as possible.


Ligament stretching: duration of the healing process

If there is a stretched ligament, the healing process usually takes no longer than one to two weeks. During this time, the affected joint should be rested extensively, and sports should be avoided altogether. You can only start training again when the swelling and pain have subsided. Otherwise, the typical symptoms of ligament strain can quickly return – the injury usually hurts even more.

While avoiding sporting activities in the healing phase is better, everyday stress is usually possible. However, caution is advised if straining the joint causes severe pain. It is advisable to wear a stabilizing bandage during the healing process to provide additional support for the joint and prevent the ligaments from being stretched again.

Once the pain from stretching the ligaments has subsided, you can slowly start training again. However, training too long or hard should be avoided immediately after the injury has healed. If symptoms occur again during training, a doctor should be consulted.

Beware of the late effects of ligament stretching.

If you have often had problems with injuries to the ligaments, it is advisable to stabilize the respective joint during sport by wearing support stockings. Appropriate bandages are available for the ankle, knee, elbow, and wrist. Overloading of the muscles should also be avoided during sports, as ligament stretching due to missteps is particularly common when you are tired.

If a stretched ligament or a ruptured ligament does not heal completely, this can lead to instability in the affected joint in the long term. Then, even a tiny misstep can lead to another ligament injury. The premature development of arthrosis can also result from ligament stretching that has not entirely healed.

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