What are Ligament Sprains?
A ligament acts like a rope that connects bones to other bones. It provides a passive limit of how far one bone can move relative to another bone. When there is traumatic stress placed on the joint, it can push the joint past how far it can normally move, and lead to the stretching of the ligament which can partially damage the ligament or completely tear it. An common example is if you twist your ankle inwards, it can stretch the lateral ligaments of the ankle.
The recovery time of a ligament depends on the severity of the injury, the individual, and on the ligament affected. Here are the general guidelines.
Types of Ligament Sprains
A mild sprain or a grade 1 sprain is when there is stretching of the ligament, but it remains intact. Recovery time for mild sprains are usually 2 to 3 weeks.
A moderate sprain or a grade 2 sprain is when the stretching leads to partial tearing of the ligament. Recovery time for moderate sprains are usually 1 to 3 months.
A severe sprain or a grade 3 sprain is when the stretching leads to a complete tear of the ligament. Because of the large force required to completely tear the ligament, a grade 3 sprain may be associated with damage to other structures in the area such as a fracture, meniscus tear or A grade 3 sprain may require surgery. Recovery time for a grade 3 sprain is highly variable, and can take anywhere from 6 months to 2 years.
Some common areas of ligament sprain are the knee (Anterior Cruciate Ligament), ankle (Anterior Talofibular Ligament), elbow (Ulnar Collateral Ligament), wrist (Scapholunate Ligament)
What Does a Ligament Sprain Feel Like?
Depending on the severity of the sprain, the symptoms will vary. You may have felt a popping or snapping sound at the time of injury. There may be some discolouration and swelling. You may feel instability with the joint: it may feel like your leg will give way or you shoulder is going to dislocate. Other symptoms include inability to weight bear, inability to continue with current activity, and poor movement of the joint.
How can a Physiotherapist / Chiropractor/ Registered Massage Therapist at Lift Clinic Help with Ligament Sprains?
Our clinicians are able to do an in depth assessment to determine what may have caused your ligament, and also the severity of the injury. This assessment will allow the clinicians to estimate a timeline for your return to sport, and help guide you along the way with an individualized treatment plan. If our clinicians suspect a full tear / grade 3 sprain, they can refer you out to a specialist for imaging and further investigation.
The treatment sessions with the clinicians aim to help you reduce pain and swelling; and restore function quicker. They will also educate you on ways to balance rest and activity. They can help to determine the optimal load during your stage of recovery, by providing the right dosages of exercise at the right time.
We may also contact coaches or other members of your team to further discuss strategies to reduce the risk of reinjury. Strategies such as joint strapping, braces, warm ups, prehab/rehab programs.
Our clinicians can not only treat injury, but also assess for risks of potential injuries and create plans tailored to minimize risk of injury.
The whole recovery process can take anywhere from 6 weeks to a year, depending on the complexity and severity of the injury. Our goal at Lift Clinic is to help you get back to doing what you need to do sooner.