Ligament Tear: Symptoms & Treatments

Our knee is supported by 4 main ligaments – anterior ruciate ligament (ACL), medial collateral ligament (MCL), lateral collateral ligament (LCL) and the posterior cruciate ligament (PCL). Each of the ligament plays a different role in ensuring the stability of the knee. However, due to various reasons, the ligaments can be torn. Rupture of the ligament can be a partial one or a full one and this will affect the treatment administered. A ligament tear will also bring about instability in the knee and the inability for it to bear weight, causing problems when walking. In this article, we will look at some of the symptoms and treatments for ligament tears.

The role of each ligament differs:

The role of the ACL is to stabilise the knee joint by restriciting forward back backwards movement of the knee. It is designed to prevent the tibia bone from moving in front of the femur. The role of the MCL is to protect the knee against any sudden and/or unwanted forces that is directed at the side of the knee. It restricts the sideway movement of the knee. The LCL works in conjunction with the MCL to restrict sideway movement and it protects against sudden forces that is directed at the inside of the knee. Lastly, the PCL works together with the ACL to control forward and backward movements of the knee.

An injured ligament will bring about symtoms that are similar to each other:

·As a general rule of thumb, a partially torn ligament will not bring about a pop sound while a fully ruptured one will produce a pop sound. A fully torn one will also create instant instability and the knee will give way.

·Swelling will occur and the injured knee may start to turn purple due to the lack of proper blood flow to the area. Swelling occurs due to a build up of blood from the injured ligament.

·The knee will be unable to function properly and you may feel that you are unable to control it.

·Tenderness will onset when you touch the knee.

The first step in treatment is to pay the PRICE:

·Protect the knee from further movements

·Resting the knee immediately following injury for at least 48 hours. If you need to move around, consider using crutches or walkers to prevent bearing weight on the injured knee.

·Ice will bring down swelling and reduce inflammation. Always try to ice the area every hour by using a cold compress or simply by wrapping knee in a towel and applying it locally.

·Compress the knee with a bandage to reduce swelling and prevent excessive movements.

·Elevate the knee to above your heart level to reduce swelling. This will cause excessive blood to flow away due to gravity towards your heart.

4 Common Injuries Incurred From Rugby

Rugby is a high impact and physically demanding sport that has a high risk of injuries due to its high contact nature. Being a competitive sport, it places a high emphasis on the physical attributes of the player and thus the increase in orthopaedic injuries. There are some parts of the body that is at a higher risk namely the head, shoulders and knees. Most injuries occurs during competitive matches especially during the tackling phase. Let’s take a look at some of the common injuries incurred from rugby.

Hamstring injuries

Due to the competitive nature of rugby, players need to be extremely fit and in order to achieve that goal, frequent work out and training sessions are conducted. This will lead to an increase in muscle overuse and increase the chances of limb injuries such as hamstring strains. Also, numerous sprinting activities are required throughout the match and sudden changes in direction will also occur. This will cause the hamstring muscles to be stretched beyond its intended limits and cause tears in the hamstring which are medically known as hamstring strains.

Anterior Cruciate Ligament Tear

The anterior cruciate ligament is one of the four major ligaments in the knee and it is responsible any movements in the knee joint and stability. During rugby, sudden changes in direction at high speeds will often occur and if the knee is still firmly stuck to the ground and a direction change is initiated, it will cause the ACL to snap. Moreover, the ACL is part of the terrible triad in the knee that consists of the ACL, MCL and meniscus. Very often during an ACL tear, the MCL and meniscus will be torn as well.

Head injuries

Rugby players are at a high risk of head injuries ranging from superficial cuts and grazes to serious lacerations. Although a protective headgear is compulsory during a rugby match, many players break their nose or suffer from concussion during high speed tackles. The protective headgear is effective against superficial injuries but it cannot really help much in serious injuries.

Sprained ankle

Ankle sprains are commonly sporting injuries suffered by many rugby players. Ankle sprains occur when the ligaments surrounding the ankles are torn due to a sudden twisting motion by the ankle. Ligament tears will cause internal bleeding and this will lead to a swollen ankle after a few hours and it is extremely painful and causes mobility issues.

Rugby is a high contact and high impact sport that carries a certain risk of injury to it. Although there are protective gears that players must wear during the match, they are often effective only against superficial injuries.

Common Ligament Injuries

Ligaments are fibrous tissues which connects our bones to other bones. They also help to support the joints and allow a normal range of motion for the joints. Ligaments have high tensile strength due to the high density of collagen present. Ligaments also provide proprioceptive inputs to the brain and allow the body to perform complex activities required in sports. Injuries to the ligament are common in high impact and high speed sports and a structural damage to the ligaments are known as ligament sprains. There are some ligament injuries that are much more common than others and let’s take a look at them.

Anterior Cruciate Ligament

Anterior Cruciate Ligament (ACL) injuries are common is high impact sports like football, soccer, rugby and basketball. The ACL is one of the 4 main ligaments in the knee which joins the femur to the tibia. Nearly 50% of patients who experience ACL injuries suffer it in combination with injuries to other parts of the knee such as the meniscus and medial collateral ligament. ACL injuries occur most commonly from sudden twisting motion when the foot is still firmly planted on the ground while the knee is trying to change direction, causing the ACL to rupture. An ACL reconstruction will be the most viable option after injury as ligaments cannot heal by themselves.

Medial Collateral Ligament

The medial collateral ligament (MCL) is another main ligament of the knee which provides stability to the knee. The MCL is located from the end of the femur to the top of the tibia and it prevents the knee from opening up. Due to its preventive features, it is commonly injured when there is an impact on the outside of the knee joint which causes the knee to buckle and the knee to open up. MCL injuries are also mostly in conjunction with ACL and meniscus injuries. If it is a standalone MCL injury, surgery is often not required and patients can get on with their lives pretty well with the help of a knee brace to provide stability.

Glenohumeral Joint ligament

The Glenohumeral joint ligaments are located in the shoulders at the Glenohumeral joint which provides stability to the shoulder. The Glenohumeral joint connects the upper arm bone to the humerus and the shoulder blade. Injuries to the Glenohumeral joint occurs due to a fall and the patient landing on an outstretched arm, sudden twisting of the arm to beyond the normal motion range and a sudden impact on the shoulder, causing the ligaments to tear.

Above are 3 of the common ligament injuries that are experienced by many. Although ligaments are strong fibrous tissues, they can rupture if a sudden impact or twisting motion is applied on it. Ligaments are important in ensuring stability of the specific part of the body so extreme care should be taken to protect it.

Symptoms of a MCL Ligament Injury

There are four ligaments that provide stability to the knee joints. They are the anterior cruciate ligament, posterior cruciate, lateral collateral ligament and medial collateral ligament. The main function of the medial collateral ligament is to prevent the knee from hyper-extension inwards and allow rotation to happen. However when the MCL is overstretched due to trauma, it can tear quite easily. A tear to the MCL can be on its own but it is more commonly in conjunction with a tear to the ACL and meniscus.

The first symptom following an injury to the MCL injury is pain. Pain will be quite severe over the inside of the side of the knee where the MCL is located. Swelling will be evident and bruising may occur a few days after the MCL injury. In serious cases of MCL injuries, you may even experience shakiness of the knee and feel like the knee is unable to take your body’s weight and is giving way.

There are 3 different grades of MCL injury ranging from grade 1 to grade 3. In grade 1 MCL injuries, the MCL is merely injured and is not torn. As such, symptoms are pretty mild with swelling, bruising and pain being the most common ones. Most patients are able to return back to sports within a few weeks. In grade 2 MCL injuries, the MCL is still not torn but injury to it is much more extensive. Symptoms of instability will occur in grade 2 injuries and the pain will be much more compared to grade 1. This usually occurs during high speed sudden turning when the foot is still stuck to the ground while the knee is attempting to change direction. Nearly one month worth of recovery time is required to recover from a grade 2 MCL injuries. A grade 3 MCL injury is the worst. It implies a complete tear of the MCL and sometimes, tears to other ligaments such as the ACL and meniscus will accompany it. Pain will be quite unbearable and the knee will be very unstable and will seem unable to take the body’s weight. A knee brace will be required to provide additional support and if other ligaments are torn as well, it will complicate thing and surgery will be the most viable option.

Knee ligaments are crucial in the stabilisation of our knee joint and allow us to carry out our daily motion without any hindrances. A MCL injury will have a negative impact on it and will cause us to have difficulties doing even basic things.