Ligaments connect bones to other bones and are very important in the stability of joints. Almost all joints in the body have ligaments which hold them together. When a joint is over stretched or twisted beyond the normal limits, the ligaments can be damaged. This is commonly known as a sprain.
Sprains typically involve pain, swelling and inflammation, and the joint can be very difficult to use. Some of the more common ligaments injured are those of the ankle, knee and wrist, as well as the small joints between the vertebrae in the neck and back.
Sprains are often graded into 3 categories. Grade 1 Sprains are minor injuries that usually only involve damage to a small percentage of the ligament. Grade 3 sprains are a complete tear of the ligament, and a Grade 2 ligament is typically anything in between Grade 1 and Grade 3 sprain. In more significant sprains, the bone can sometimes be fractured.
In the first few days following a ligament sprain, it is advisable to follow the acronym “PRICE” – Protect, Rest, Ice, Compress and Elevate the injured body part.
If the pain lasts more than a day or so, or the joint is too painful to use then it is advisable to see a physiotherapist or a doctor who can assess for the severity of the injury and check for fractures and other more significant injury.