Ligament sprain / rupture

Damaged ligament from excess force

This type of injury can happen anywhere, but sporting activities are usually the cause. A sprained ankle is the most common type we see. External forces, like a sudden impact can overcome the elasticity of a ligament and tearing occurs within it. Landing on an uneven surface is a really common scenario. A simple 3 grade system can be used to categorise the severity.

Grade 1 means the ligament is sore but there is no appreciable damage because the tearing is in a small region. These can be worked on almost immediately with soft tissue massage and stretching. and generally only last a week or two. Strapping or bracing can be used.

Grade 2 tearing will produce some bruising and swelling, and ice is recommended for 20 minutes every 2 hours to prevent further bleeding and injury.  Protective strapping or bracing is essential because if the healing ligament is allowed to rest in an elongation position it will heal too loose and remain unstable. Recovery time is more like 4-8 weeks depending on the location and severity.

Grade 3 means the ligament is torn right through. Fractures may also be present in the bony attachment, so and x-ray is usually taken. Referral to an orthopaedic surgeon, or even a trip to the emergency department is necessary because a lot of these injuries needs to be surgically repaired.