The musculoskeletal system is made up of many body parts that help the body to move and maintain structure. Many people are familiar with bones, muscles and joints, but less so with other important parts of the system such as cartilage, tendons and ligaments, even though they play a crucial role in allowing us to perform many functions we take for granted.
Ligaments perform a unique and important function in the skeletomuscular system. Ligaments are tough bands of fibrous tissue that connect bone to bone or bone to cartilage. Their presence supports the strengths of joints throughout the body.
Their primary function is to keep our bones in proper alignment and to prevent any abnormal movements of the joints. Hey can be considered a joint’s primary support system. Ligaments can be found throughout the body particularly where there are complex joints. In these places there will usually be found several ligaments supporting the joint in several directions. Although ligaments are extremely strong and elastic, abnormal movements can cause them to stretch and even tear.
When joints are put under serious pressure as often is the case in sports or during some type of accident, ligaments are often the parts of the joint area to sustain the most damage first. If they are stretched this is called a ligament strain and if they are stretched too far, it will result in a ligament tear.
Ligament injuries can occur all over the body but are most common in areas with complex joints and lots of ligaments. These include the wrists, knees and ankles.
When ligaments are sprained or torn, the pain can be excruciating and requires immediate medical attention. Your doctor will do a thorough examination and may send you to surgery. Whether you have surgery or not, you will certainly end up in front of a physical therapist who will work with you to return you to good physical health. Physical therapists can offer several ideas to limit the pain from an injured ligament.
Remove any Weight or Pressure on the Area
You should immediately remove any pressure or weight from the injured area. In the case of a wrist putting on a sling might help to take the pressure of the joint You should also cease any activity that might cause further injury. Recovery time for your injury can be discussed with the physical therapist and during that time you should rest and do not put any unnecessary strain on the injured ligaments.
Ice the Area
Putting something very cold on the injured area will offer short term relief from pain. Ice will also help to limit swelling of the area which can also limit pain by reducing blood flow to the joint area.
Elevate the Injured Area
When a ligament is injured, elevating that area can cause pain to subside. You should raise the injured area above the heart to lower blood flow to the area. This will also limit swelling which will lower the amount of pain you feel.
You should also take pain medication under the supervision of your doctor when needed