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Ligament Injuries

A ligament is a band of tough, flexible fibrous connective tissue which connects two bones or cartilages, or holds a joint together. When overstretched, tearing can occur in the ligaments and cause a Ligament Injury. 

What are Ligament Injuries?

Ligaments are small bands of tough, flexible tissue, made up of lots of individual fibres, which connect the bones of the body. Ligaments connect most of the bones in the body. The function of a ligament is to provide a passive limit to the amount of movement between your bones. 

Ligaments sprain when the joint is stressed beyond its normal range, causing overstretch or tearing of the ligament. A sprain can range from mild (tearing of just a few fibres) to severe (complete rupture of the ligament, leading to joint instability).

The severity of a sprain is graded according to how badly the ligament has been damaged and whether or not the joint has been made unstable. The joint can become unstable when the damaged ligament is no longer able to give it the normal support.

The 3 Grades of Ligament Injury are:

  • Grade I – mild ligament tear, structural damage only on microscopic level, with slight local tenderness and without joint instability.
  • Grade II – moderate ligament tear, partial rupture of the ligament, visible swelling and noticeable tenderness, but without joint instability (or with mild instability)
  • Grade III – complete ligament tear, a severe sprain: complete rupture of the ligament with significant swelling and with instability of the joint.
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Signs and Symptoms of Ligament Injuries

Ligament Injuries are typically related to trauma that overstresses the ligament beyond its load capacity. Signs and symptoms include:

  • Traumatic cause
  • Sudden onset of pain and severe swelling
  • Possible 'popping' sound at time of injury
  • Subsequent joint instability
  • Impaired function (e.g. inability to walk, run or weight-bear)

Causes of Ligament Injuries

Ligament injuries may be caused by twisting or landing awkwardly, and they are most common when the ligaments around a joint are stretched fully, causing them to tear away from the bone.

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