What are tendon and ligament tears?
Injury to the soft tissues that link muscles to joints includes tears or ruptures of the tendons and ligaments. Common symptoms of tendon and ligament tears are pain and swelling.
These injuries are a common occurrence during sport activities. Constant movement causes stress to the ligaments in the joints. The most common areas would be the ankle, knee and wrist.
These tears can cause the joints extreme pain and restrict usual movements. Often, it happens due to an accident.
What are the types of ligament or tendon tears and ruptures?
The tendons and ligament tears can cause various issues to the joints, but most often, the knees get injured first.
These are the two most common tears in the tendons and ligaments -
The anterior cruciate ligament (ACL):
ACL is located toward the front of the knee, with the most common being and injured ligament. A sudden twisting action in this area can cause a stretched or torn ligament. The sports that have a higher likelihood of causing tears are skiing, basketball, and football.
The Achilles tendon is located at the back of the lower leg. It is the most common tendon tear which is caused by recreational sports. The Achilles tendon is a strong fibrous cord that connects the muscles in the back of your calf to your heel bone. The tear pops, followed by a sharp pain in the lower ankle.
Possible ways to help your torn ligaments or tendons
The immediate need for a tendon or ligament tear is to reduce pain and inflammation, which would include over-the-counter pain medication, ice packs and sufficient rest.
Lifestyle and home remedies
For the less severe and treat-at-home types of tears, we recommend doing the R.I.C.E treatment method,
- Rest: Avoid activities (work or sports) that increase pain or swelling. Sufficient rest can help the healing of tissues, but not complete bed rest. Minor activities that don't stress the injured tendon, like water exercises, are tolerable.
- Ice: Apply ice to the injured area for up to 20 minutes several times daily to decrease pain, muscle spasms, and swelling. Ice packs, ice massage, or slush baths with ice and water can help.
- Compression: Because swelling can result in loss of motion in an injured joint, compress the area until the swelling has ceased. Wraps or compressive elastic bandages are best.
- Elevation: If tendinitis affects your knee, raise the affected leg above the level of your heart to reduce swelling.
- Using a brace: Immobilize the joint with a splint or cast and apply ice to reduce swelling.
Non-invasive options for tendon and ligament tears or ruptures
- Massage ligament injury
Soft tissue massage is the best option for targeting injuries in the muscles, tendons, and ligaments.
- Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs
NSAIDs can reduce pain & swelling caused by these injuries. It also increases your chances of regaining function and returning to activity sooner.
- Physical therapy - balance training
Balance, control, and strengthening exercises can help your ligaments heal faster than they otherwise would. The specific movement will depend on your particular injury. Still, if you repeat your exercises on at least a daily basis, you will be greatly helping your recovery process by building strength and flexibility back into your injured area.
- Ligament injections
If your pain is severe enough, you may need an injection of medicine to provide relief. The injection usually includes an anesthetic to numb the area, and a corticosteroid, which is a potent anti-inflammatory that can reduce pain. The medication can take a couple of days to kick in. If the swelling goes down, you probably don’t need another shot. if it remains, you may get another shot in a few months.
- PRP therapy
If the steroid shot does not provide pain relief, a natural substance called platelet-rich plasma can be injected into the injury site. This plasma is made up of platelets, blood cells taken from your body (a centrifuge separates the platelets from the rest of your blood) that promote healing when they reach an injury. The high concentration of platelets helps your ligament heal faster than it usually would.