The joints are surrounded by ligaments. These provide support for the joint. They stabilize the joints and guide and limit movement. However, ligaments can tear as a result of an accident, usually in sports. This is then referred to as a ligament rupture or also a torn ligament. The ligaments can tear both partially and completely. Along with ligament stretching, ligament rupture is one of the most common sports injuries or ankle injuries. However, a torn ligament - a collateral ligament tear or a cruciate ligament tear - can also occur at the knee. Athletes who play sports that require short sprints and start-stop movements, such as soccer, tennis or volleyball, are particularly at risk.
Causes of a torn ligament
The outer ligament of the upper ankle is particularly commonly affected. A torn ligament occurs when the foot is overstretched or overloaded, for example, when it twists outward. A torn ligament is particularly favored by overweight, incorrect footwear or high shoes and a poor training condition with untrained muscles.
The causes of a cruciate ligament tear are also one-sided strain, overloading, excess weight or accident-related injuries. Especially in sports fast movements in which the knee twists can lead to cruciate ligament rupture.
Symptoms of torn ankle ligaments
Torn ankle ligaments can cause bruising of the foot, the ankle swells and the affected person experiences sudden severe pain, especially when stepping.
First aid for torn ankle ligaments
In the event of a torn ankle ligament, affected persons should first relieve the foot. For first aid, the following applies: elevate the foot, cool it and take it easy. Stepping on the foot should be avoided at first.
Symptoms of cruciate ligament rupture
The outer ligament, inner ligament, anterior cruciate ligament and posterior cruciate ligament hold the knee joint together and keep it stable. When overloaded, for example during rapid movements in sports or twisting of the knee, the ligaments can overstretch to the point of a partial tear or a complete rupture. Depending on the ligament in question, this is referred to as a torn lateral ligament, torn medial ligament or even a torn cruciate ligament.
Those affected often complain of sudden severe pain, a thick swollen knee and restricted movement. For first aid, the knee should be elevated to relieve the pain. Cooling and an elastic pressure bandage can also help.
Diagnosis of torn ligaments
To diagnose a torn ligament or cruciate ligament, it is important for the physician to know how the accident occurred. Where exactly is the pain in the knee or ankle? Are there any movements that are painful or difficult? Does the patient have any pre-existing conditions or previous injuries?
The doctor checks by palpation whether swellings or malpositions are visible, checks the blood circulation and how the joint can be moved. He also performs a functional test to assess the limitations caused by the injury in more detail.
An ultrasound examination, X-rays or an MRI may also be ordered to detect further injuries or if the diagnosis is unclear.
Therapy Torn ligaments
For initial treatment, the affected joint should first be immobilized, possibly elevated and cooled. Subsequent treatment can be conservative or surgical. The decisive factor here is the severity of the injury.
If the ligament is not only torn but completely torn, if the ankle joint is unstable or if the bone at the ankle joint is injured, conservative therapy is usually not sufficient and surgery is necessary to sew the ligaments back together.
In order to spare the ankle joint, no weight should be placed on it for six weeks. In addition, a walking splint must be worn for five weeks.
Cruciate ligament rupture therapy
In the case of a cruciate ligament rupture, the severity of the knee injury is also decisive for treatment. Is the cruciate ligament only torn and can grow back together on its own, or does it need to be sutured? If the joint is unstable, if several ligaments are injured or if the bone at the knee joint is also injured, surgery is necessary to suture the cruciate ligament. For fresh injuries, our knee surgery specialists suture the ligament. In older cruciate ligament tears, the ligament is replaced with a piece of tendon. The specialists refer to this as a cruciate ligamentoplasty.
In special cases, when the ligament is repeatedly torn and no tendon from the body can be used, transplantation of a donor tend on is also possible.
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