Ligament strain / ligament tear

Ligaments ensure the necessary stability and also determine the mobility of the joints. Sudden movements that go beyond the joints' normal radius often cause strains (sprains) or tears of the strands of connective tissue.

This injury most commonly affects the knee, ankle and hand joints. But any other joint can be affected too - such as the finger joints in people who play ball-based sports. If strains or tears remain untreated, permanent instability and - as a result - chronic unequal load distribution occur. These accelerate wear and tear processes in the joint.

Diagram of a ligament tear

Symptoms

Ligament strains or tears are usually associated with acute pain. The affected joints exhibit swelling and often bruising too. Over time, the symptoms tend to be felt most commonly during exertion and on movement.

Treatment

The choice of treatment depends partly on the severity of the injury and partly on the patient's desired sporting activities. With conservative therapies such as temporary rest, supported with special bandages and targeted physiotherapy, joint stabilisation can be achieved in many cases with the muscles - even for ligament tears - and the injury can be allowed to heal.

In patients who are very active in terms of sport, this active stabilisation is often not enough, however. As a result, surgical procedures such as ligament suturing or ligament replacement using the patient's own tissue, usually carried out during arthroscopic surgery, may be used.