Know all About Ligament Injuries, Causes, Types, and Treatmen

  • April 20, 2024
  • blog

Ligament injuries are both painful and emotionally draining, disrupting everyday activities and taking a toll on lifestyle. These injuries mostly occur suddenly, whether it’s a football tackle or repetitive stress. Sportspersons and female athletes experience a higher risk of ligament injuries. 

While no one likes the ordeal, injuries to the ligament can take place at any time. With prompt diagnosis and treatment, the patient can prevent further damage and gradually recover.

In this article, we have comprehensively discussed the different types of ligament injuries and their symptoms and explained how to treat torn ligaments. These proactive steps can help individuals manage pain and recover from such injuries quickly.

What is Ligament Injury?


Ligaments are elastic bands of tissues connecting the bones in our knees to one another, besides providing strength and stability to the joint. The knee joint has four major ligaments that connect the thigh bone, or femur, to the shin bone or tibia. These are:

  • Anterior cruciate ligament (ACL)
  • Posterior cruciate ligament (PCL)
  • Medial collateral ligament (MCL)
  • Lateral collateral ligament (LCL)

If any of these fibrous bands sustain damage or tear, it can lead to a ligament injury. Usually, such injuries occur due to:

  • Direct impact, such as a player colliding with another during a football tackle.
  • Twisting of joints during sudden directional changes.
  • Wear and tear of ligaments due to repetitive stress, particularly in athletes playing high-impact sports like soccer or basketball.

 Even non-athletes can sustain ligament injuries, which can be equally painful. 

What are the Different Types of Ligament Injuries?

 Most ligament injuries affect the knee joint, patients often complain of ankle, wrist, and leg ligament injuries. Let’s understand the different types of ligament injuries and their symptoms.

Anterior Cruciate Ligament (ACL) Injury

The anterior cruciate ligament, present in the knee joint, is responsible for keeping the knee stable during rotational movements. The risk of ACL injuries is high when the feet remain planted one way but the knee in another direction. Anterior cruciate ligament injury results from sudden twists while engaging in sports activities like football or basketball. 

Posterior Cruciate Ligament (PCL) Injury

 The Posterior Cruciate Ligament is present at the back of the knee, and it regulates the movement of the shin bone. Such injuries can affect patients due to a direct impact on the knee, like football tackles or car accidents.

Medial Collateral Ligament (MCL) Injury

This ligament is present on the inner side of the knee and is responsible for stabilizing it against external forces. MCL injuries stem from sudden twisting motions or blows to the outer knee while playing different sports.

Lateral Collateral Ligament (LCL) Injury

The LCL is on the outer side of the knee and checks excessive lateral or sidewise movement of the knee joint. Injuries to this ligament occur due to direct impact to the inner knee or twisting.

While these four types of ligament injuries tend to be painful, patients may hear a popping sound without experiencing pain initially. The leg buckles up while attempting to stand, accompanied by swelling. The symptoms may vary from one individual to the next. Since these symptoms resemble other medical conditions, it’s recommended to consult a doctor if you experience pain and swelling for a thorough diagnosis.

What are Ankle Ligament Injuries?

ligament injury ankle

Ankle ligaments are tissues connecting the lower leg bones to the foot bones. These ligaments are responsible for stabilizing the ankle joint. The bands of tissues prevent the ankle from folding, twisting, or collapsing. 

During an ankle ligament injury, the tissues can tear or overstretch, resulting in a sprain. These injuries are quite common, and the pain intensity can range from mild to severe.

Athletes often experience ankle ligament injuries while playing soccer or basketball. These injuries occur due to sudden twists or awkward landings. A lateral ankle sprain, which involves the ligaments on the outer side of the ankle, is the most common type of ankle injury.

Common symptoms of ankle ligament injuries include swelling, pain, and difficulty in bearing weight. Doctors recommend physical therapy, taking rest, ice compression, and using braces for support.

What are Wrist Ligament Injuries?

Some patients even experience damaged wrist ligaments. Wrist ligament injuries generally occur from sports or falls. Each wrist has around 20 ligaments that support eight bones. If a wrist gets stretched, the underlying ligaments sustain damage. The scapholunate ligament, connecting the lunate and scaphoid bones, suffers injury most of the time.

Patients suffering wrist ligament injuries often complain of pain and swelling, along with limited wrist movement. Common treatments include medication and splinting for pain management. Doctors also recommend certain exercises to enhance flexibility and strength.

In severe cases, damage to wrist ligaments may be accompanied by fractured bones or damaged nerves.

What are Leg Ligament Injuries?

Leg ligament injuries broadly cover ankle and knee ligament injuries. Following an injury, the patient may experience tenderness around the knee or ankle or an inability to move the leg normally. Usually, such injuries make the knee unstable and result in pain. While rest and sports medicine subsides the pain in most cases, surgical intervention may be the last option during severe injuries.

Common Symptoms of Ligament Injuries

  • Pain and Swelling: Localized pain and swelling often accompany ligament injuries. The intensity of pain may range from mild to severe.
  • Instability in Movement: Ligament injuries render the joints unstable, resulting in difficulty in movement. The joint becomes weak, leading to tenderness in the area.
  • Difficulty in Performing Activities: A damaged or torn ligament may make it challenging to perform daily activities or bear heavy weight. Patients experience a limited range of motion of the affected joint.

How Do Doctors Diagnose Ligament Injuries?

Physical Examination

The ligament injury treatment process starts with a physical examination. Doctors assess the range of motion in the knee or affected joint. After evaluating the stability and tenderness of the joint, they recommend ligament stress tests to understand the extent of damage.

Imaging Tests

X-rays and imaging are common medical imaging tests. These evaluations help assess possible fractures and the underlying bone structure in the affected area. Physicians recommend MRI tests to gain a detailed view of the soft tissues and identify inflammation and tears.


Arthroscopy is an advanced diagnosis procedure in which physicians insert a small camera into the joint through a tiny incision. Thus, they get a direct view of the affected ligament and plan the right treatment path.

How Do Physicians Treat Ligament Injuries?

Based on the intensity of ligament damage, physicians categorize the injury into three groups.

  • Grade 1 injury: Mild damage
  • Grade 2 injury: Severe damage with a partially torn ligament
  • Grade 3 injury: Ligament completely torn

The first two levels of injuries take 3 to 8 weeks to recover, while grade 3 injuries might take several months to recovery. Accordingly, doctors recommend different treatment processes depending on the type and severity of the injury.

In this section, we will check out the different types of ligament injury treatment processes, ranging from pain management to surgeries.

RICE Therapy

Doctors recommend RICE therapy for mild injuries. Patients need to rest, apply ice compression, and keep the joint elevated to reduce swelling. 

Pain Management

Mostly, doctors prescribe pain relievers after diagnosing the extent of ligament damage. Over-the-counter medicines also prove effective in managing discomfort. 

Physical Therapy

In case of severe damage following a cruciate ligament ACL injury, physical therapy and rehabilitation are recommended. Tailored rehabilitation programs help in strengthening muscles and enhancing the stability of joints. This helps in restoring the range of motion in the affected area.

Surgical Interventions


For grade 3 injuries, physicians recommend minimally invasive surgical processes like arthroscopic surgery. Patients undergoing these treatments take longer periods to recover as the damaged ligament is reconstructed. 

Knee Braces

Splinting or bracing the affected joint offers external support. Knee braces help the patient retain stability, preventing further chances of injury as the ligament recovers from its damage. 

Ways to Reduce the Risk of Ligament Injury

Here are some guidelines that will help sportspersons and individuals reduce the risk of ACL injuries.

  • Warm Up: Before engaging in any physical activity, warm up through exercises and stretching. This will prepare the joints and muscles for movement.
  • Correct Techniques: If someone engages in sports activities, mastering the correct techniques is crucial to minimize the risk of sudden twists.
  • De-Stress: Refrain from taking stress and gradually increase the intensity and duration of physical activities.
  • Protective Gear: During sports activities, wear proper protective gear, such as knee braces, ankle braces, or knee pads, to reduce the impact of collisions or falls.
  • Coordination: Engage in activities that enhance coordination and body balance.

Comprehensive Medical Care for ligament Injuries

The commonality of ligament injuries has put doctors to work and find a less invasive solution to cure the injury. However, seldom we have seen these sort of injuries are treated or addressed with medication or therapy. Even though surgical interventions are the last resort, doctors try less invasive methods at the outset.

At Santokh Hospital, we have successfully treated hundreds of ligament injury cases over the years. We also take the medication approach first, but surgery is the ultimate option, and it has great results. Our post-surgery assistance proves valuable for patients. If you have suffered a ligament injury, schedule an appointment with us, and our experienced orthopedic surgeons will take care of your recovery process.