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Ligament Sprains
How it happens and how physiotherapy can help

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Ligament Sprains and Physiotherapy

A sprain is really a joint-related injury, caused by the ligament inside being over-stretch beyond what it can. A similar injury in a muscle is called a muscle strain (an example is back strain).

In some causes where ligament or muscle tissue is torn, immobilization and surgical repair may be required.

Our ligaments are very tough, fibrous tissues which main functions is to connect bones to other bones. Also, even though sprains can technically happen in any joints but they are most common in our ankles and wrists.

Symptoms of Ligament Sprains

  • Pain
  • Swelling
  • Bruising
  • Difficulty in moving the sprained limb
  • If the ligament ruptured, you may hear a "pop"

Classification

  • First degree sprain - tear of only a few fibers of the ligament.
  • Second degree sprain - tear of part of a ligament, from a third to almost all its fibers.
  • Third degree sprain - is a complete, 100% tear of the ligament.

Diagnosis

Diagnosing a sprain injury is by physical, manual examination. Most of the time, you'll have to take an x-ray to rule out the possibility of fractures. If the doctor suspects a ligamental tear, you may be referred for an MRI scan, after the swelling has subsided so it's clearer to see.

Main Causes

Sprains generally happen when our joint is overly stretched or extended, which in turn, overstretches and tears the ligaments of the joints.

Some of the more common ligament sprains

  • Ankle sprains are the most commonly sprained joint - a serious ankle sprain is definitely way more painful and takes much more time to recover than from actually breaking any bones in the ankle.
  • Knee sprains. One of the more common sprain is the the sprain to the anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) of the knee (this is the same injury that I had - a full 100% rupture to my left knee's ACL - not fun at all). It happens to many athletes, from American football, soccer, basketball, softball, martial arts etc.
  • Finger sprains.
  • Wrist sprains.
  • Toe sprains.

Risk factors to consider

There are risk factors that increases the risk of getting a sprain:

  • Muscle fatigue usually leads to sprains.
  • Too fast transitioning from a sedentary lifestyle to an active one.
  • Insufficient dynamic warm up.

Physiotherapy Treatments and Interventions

First and foremost, we would prescribe the RICE method to deal with any forms of acute injuries, including a sprain.

RICE stands for:

  • REST - the sprain should be rested. No new and additional force should be applied to the sprain site.
  • ICE - applying ice immediately helps to reduce swelling and pain. Applied for a max of 10-15 minutes per session (not more, as more can cause frostbite and damage)
  • COMPRESS - you can consider using bandages to immobilize the joint and to provide support. When doing so, apply more pressure at the far end of the sprain and gradually work towards a lighter pressure at the nearer end. Please note that compression should not cut off circulation.
  • ELEVATE - raising the sprained joint higher than the heart will also serve to minimize swelling. 

Careful management of swelling is crucial to the healing process as additional fluid may pool in the sprain area.

Once the swelling is managed, we will need to start with gentle active exercises to increase the range of motion and to prevent stiffness from setting in, which can be done within 1 - 3 days after injury (depending on severity of the condition).

Ultrasound therapy to accelerate soft tissue healing will also prove beneficial, and as your ligament gains strength, we can slowly progress to more resistive and balance-based exercises. Where appropriate, we can also start with passive stretching to stretch out the joint for better mobility.

Where to next?

  1. Make A Physiotherapy, Hand Therapy or Deep Tissue Release Singapore Appointment
  2. Arrange A CallBack or Make An E-Enquiry Here
  3. See the list of physiotherapy conditions we treat 
  4. See the list of orthopedic surgeons we serve in Singapore
  5. Return to Urbanrehab's Physiotherapy, Hand Therapy and Sports Massage Singapore Home Page from our ligament sprains page
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Initially, our specialist physiotherapists will carry out a thorough assessment, helping them to select the most appropriate treatment to help you recover. They then provide expert treatment for your pain as well as prescribing specific exercises to reduce your risk of re-injury and giving you a long term solution.

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Disclaimer
We are a wholly Singapore Private Limited group of licensed physiotherapists, hand therapists, podiatrists, chiropractors, sports massage therapists, clinical pilates practitioners and TCM physicians practicing in our scope of rehabilitation and its areas of specializations. As listed in our website are the list of services we provide our clients as referred by their medical doctors or by self referrals/word of mouth.

The range of rehabilitation results vary from patients to patients, depending on a variety of factors and reasons such as severity of condition, genetics, gender and age. However, we will still deliver the best evidence-based-practice of physiotherapy, hand therapy, TCM, sports training and deep tissue release therapy that we can deliver.

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