A torn ligament is probably one of the most typical sports injuries. FITBOOK asked an expert how the injury actually occurs, how to treat it, and when it's okay for sufferers to start training again.
How do torn ligaments actually happen?
"Torn ligaments are one of the most common injuries among athletes," explains Dr. Med. Mathias Schettle, a specialist in orthopedics and trauma surgery from Munich, Germany.
But how do they actually come about exactly? "The ligaments of a joint can tear or rupture as a result of twisting or violent force," the medical professional explains. This happens particularly often to the ankle of soccer players – for example, when an opponent bumps into them. The greater the force of it, the worse the injury often is. "An ankle joint can also break," says Schettle. In that case, the ligaments hold, but the bone underneath suffers a fracture.
The proper behavior immediately after injury
"In the acute stage, the ankle must be elevated and cooled with ice," explains the orthopedist. This is to avoid swelling, or to be able to drain an already existing one. Further it would have to come promptly to the diagnostics. In the area of the ankle joint, the specialist recommends an MRI examination, i.E. Magnetic resonance imaging. " The soft tissue structure is better visualized than with an X-ray, which can only rule out possible fractures."
How to treat a torn ligament?
In the past, torn ligaments were readily operated on, explains Dr. Schettle. Today, on the other hand, the tendency is more towards conservative therapy. The reason: "A torn ligament heals well on its own. Depending on the severity of the symptoms, however, the ankle joint must be relieved for a short time. In this case, the patient walks with crutches for a period of usually seven to 14 days."Afterwards, it is important to make an orthosis, i.E. A splint that the injured person has to wear for a longer period of time. The healing process usually takes about six to eight weeks.
In order to be fit again quickly, soccer players in particular are increasingly relying on injections with their own blood, or more precisely with centrifuged blood plasma, in the event of a torn ligament. "It contains growth factors and anti-inflammatory substances that are supposed to positively influence regeneration," the orthopedist knows.
Also interesting: can you treat injuries with stem cells? Athletes should expect to be out of action for six weeks. During this time, refrain completely from strenuous sports such as jogging or ball sports. The same applies to stretching exercises. "Strength training or cycling on the ergometer is possible again a little earlier," the specialist admits. With advancing recovery, gentle movements are more and more allowed, he says.
Also interesting: 5 mistakes you should avoid when returning to training
What are the possible late effects of torn ligaments?
The late effects of a torn ligament should never be underestimated, warns Dr. Schettle. "If the joint does not heal properly, it can remain unstable. There is also a risk of joint wear, i.E. Arthrosis," explains the physician. That would cause lasting pain. Restriction of movement mean. In the worst case, surgery would be necessary after all. In other words, if you have torn a ligament, give yourself enough time to recover before you start to exert yourself again.