Understanding Your Ligaments
Your ligaments and tendons function in coordination with your muscles, joints, and bones in order for your body to make all movements that are needed during your day-to-day life.
The ligaments and tendons are each comprised of tissue that contains fibers. These fibers also have a protein that is called collagen, which is beneficial for your ligaments, tendons, bones, muscles and organ tissues.
Your ligaments and tendons are equally important. However, they have different responsibilities.
Ligaments connect your bones to other bones and provide stability to your joints, while tendons connect the bones to your muscles.
Where Are Your Ligaments
There are ligaments that are contained throughout your body, including your knees, shoulders, ankles, wrists, back, neck and elbows.
- Knee Ligaments – there are four different ligaments that are located in your knees. These are the anterior cruciate ligament (ACL), the posterior cruciate ligament (PCL), the lateral collateral ligament (LCL), and the medial collateral ligament (MCL).
- Elbow Ligaments – you also have three primary ligaments that are located near your elbow. These are the radial collateral ligament, the annular ligament, and the ulnar collateral ligament. These ligaments supply support to your humerus – which is the long bone of your upper arm – along with the radius and ulna – which are the long bones contained in your forearm.
- Ankle Ligaments – you also have multiple ligaments that are located near your ankle, including the three ligaments that can be found on the outside of your ankle (anterior talofibular, posterior talofibular, and calcaneofibular). The deltoid ligament is located on the inside of your ankle, while the posterior talofibular ligament can be found at the back of your ankle.
- Shoulder Ligaments – there are also several ligaments in your shoulder. Some of them are responsible for connecting your humerus to your shoulder blade, which is also called the scapula. There are also ligaments that join your collarbone (or clavicle) to the shoulder blade.
- Hand and Wrist Ligaments – there are a number of ligaments that are contained in your wrist and hand. These include the collateral, and volar ligaments of your hand, along with the dorsal radiocarpal ulnocarpal and radioulnar ligaments that facilitate the use of your wrists
- Back Ligaments – The ligaments of your spine supply the stability for your movements while placing limitations on how far you can stretch in any direction. The anterior longitudinal, ligamentum flavum, and posterior longitudinal are among the ligaments that reside in your spine.
- Neck Ligaments – You also have ligaments in your neck, which preserve the placement of your spinal cord. Your neck is mobile, although that raises the potential for an issue to surface within these ligaments.
If a particular movement causes your ligaments to stretch, it can result in a sprain. But if a similar stretch involves a tendon, then it is considered to be a strain.
Any event that forces your ligaments beyond the usual limits of movement can create a sprain in your wrist, neck, and back. This is also the case for a major collision or impact with the ground.
However, a sprain of your shoulder ligaments will result in a tear. This can also develop if you attempt to cushion a fall with your arm or hand. That scenario can also cause a sprain in your elbow.
Experiencing a more serious ligament tear can be extremely painful. It might also involve bruising and swelling while moving your joint could also be problematic.
In many cases, an individual who tears a ligament might hear a popping sound at the moment of the injury occurs. This can often result from a sudden change in direction such as jumping, landing or from an immediate stop.
While there are several areas of the body in which a ligament tear can develop, tears that emerge within the anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) are among the most common.
This ligament joins the shin bone to the thighbone and can be particularly susceptible to problems from the movements that are often essential during sporting events such as basketball, football, skiing, and soccer.
If you experience sudden pain there is also a serious in nature this can be an indication that you have injured your knee ligament.
This is also the case if you have developed swelling within 24 hours after an injury or if you are unable to place any weight on your knee without incurring significant pain.
The literal twists and turns that your body might experience during a sporting activity can also lead to a tear in the other ligaments of your knee.
The PCL (posterior cruciate ligament) is vulnerable as it controls your backward mobility, while a tear can also occur in the outer (LCL/ lateral collateral ligament) or inner portion of your knee (MCL/medial collateral ligament).
When To Visit A Physician
There are many specifics that will vary depending upon the situation that led to pain, along with the location of your issue. But as a general rule you should seek medical care in these scenarios:
- You are unable to move properly
- Your movements result in severe pain
- There is significant swelling
- The injured area is twisted out of its normal shape
- You have no feeling in a particular area
- You heard a popping sound in the injured area
How A Doctor Will Repair Your Ligament
The specifics of your knee injury will determine the exact form of treatment.
In many cases, surgery will not be required, as a combination of rest, ice, elevation, elastic bandages, physical therapy or pain relief will be recommended.
However, if you have experienced a complete tear, your physician will likely recommend surgery in order to repair the ligament.
Repair of a torn ligament will often occur as outpatient surgery. However, there are situations in which it will take place in a hospital. This will be discussed when your doctor delivers his or her recommendation, as will any usage of anesthesia.
The actual procedure will usually be undertaken with an arthroscope – which is a thin instrument that is temporarily inserted into your joint.
The actual repair of a torn ligament in the knee will involve reattaching the ligament, or reconstruction of the ligament by replacing it with a small segment of a tendon.
The process of arthroscopic surgery is similar for the repair of torn ligaments in the wrist, or elbow. It is also true of injuries involving the repair of torn ligaments in the wrist, ankle, or shoulder.
At Orthopedic Associates, We Are Here To Help
If you have any questions about your ligaments or believe that you may have experienced an issue that involves a ligament, tendon, muscle, or bone, the professionals at Orthopedic Associates are ready to provide our expertise.
Our team of physicians is also comprised of specialists for every condition that you might encounter. Orthopedic Associates offers a full spectrum of musculoskeletal care, along with in-house physical therapy, our state-of-the-art technology, and an on-site surgical center.
Our board-certified doctors have also been practicing medicine for a combined total of 183 years, while our team also contains specialists for every condition that you might encounter.