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Ligament injuries

Torn ligament

Torn ligaments come from sports injuries and cause severe pain and swelling to the joint.

About

Ligaments are tough, flexible tissues which connect one bone to another bone and hold them in place. When too much force is applied to a ligament, it can become injured or torn. This makes the joint unstable.

Need to know

  • Symptoms of ligament injury icon plus

    Sports injuries often cause torn ligaments, mainly in the knees and ankles. The main ligaments in your knees are the anterior cruciate ligaments (ACL) and posterior cruciate ligament (PCL). These connect the thigh bone with the bones of the lower leg and can be twisted or torn when jumping and landing on a bent knee. General symptoms are:

    • a popping or snapping sound at the time of injury
    • pain
    • rapid onset of swelling
    • a feeling of instability or unsteadiness after the injury
    • knee stiffness

    There are different grades of torn ligaments. Grade 1 is a stretched ligament, grade 2 is partially torn ligament and grade 3 is a completely torn ligament.

  • Screening and diagnosis icon plus

    Following a painful knee injury, you may need to be seen at an A&E department or by your GP urgently. Here you are assessed, and the first priority is to exclude any broken bones (fracture) or other problems requiring urgent care. Should a specialist assessment be required, this can be arranged soon thereafter.
  • Potential treatment options icon plus

    Minor ligament injuries can be treated with rest, ice, compression, elevation (R.I.C.E), to reduce the swelling. For specific types of injury, you may be fitted with a knee brace to support the ligaments while they heal. The most common ligament injury is damage to the medial collateral. This may be treated by a period in a knee brace, physiotherapy and crutches. Following ACL injury resting your knee is a key part of the recovery. Your consultant will discuss any further treatment options with you. These may depend on how stable your knee feels, your day-to-day function, and your sporting profile. In certain cases, you may consider ACL reconstruction surgery to rebuild your ACL. This involves rebuilding the ACL with other tissue - usually your own hamstrings or patella tendon.
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This content is intended for general information only and does not replace the need for personal advice from a qualified health professional.
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