Ligament Injuries

Ligament Injuries

What are ligament injuries?

Ligaments are the connective tissues that connect bone to bone.  A ligament is made up of collagen fibers similar to tendons. If these ligaments are overloaded, they can become damaged and tear. In severe enough cases they can tear completely off the bone. Ligament injuries are commonly seen and include ankle sprains, knee injuries (ACL tear, MCL tear), acromioclavicular (AC joint) separation, and whiplash injuries.

Standard Treatments

Common treatments for ligament injuries include rest, medications, bracing, and physical therapy. If severe enough, these may warrant surgery to reattach the ligament. Often these injuries can lead to chronic pain and limited function if the ligaments do not heal completely or become somewhat loose resulting in mild instability. Often this instability can lead to further wear and tear in the associated joint.

One barrier to ligament injuries of the spine is the actual correct diagnosis. Imaging, including MRI, does not reveal injuries to the supporting ligaments of the spine, although ligaments supporting joints in arms and legs are better seen. Diagnosis is made based on symptoms, physical exam, imaging, and provocative testing to tease out which ligaments have been injured.

Regenerative Medicine

Fortunately, if diagnosed properly, chronic ligament injuries can be treated with procedures that aim to help stimulate the healing of the injured ligament. As patients progress through the treatment, pain and function improves as the ligament strengthens and stabilizes.