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7 Treatments for Common Ligament Injuries

7 Treatments for Common Ligament Injuries

You might not think much about your ligaments until they’re injured. Ligaments are tough bands of connective tissue that connect bones with bones in your joints. They’re located in your knees, ankles, elbows, shoulders, and other joints, and if they’re torn or overstretched, it can lead to pain and instability in your joints.

Ligament injuries are common in both athletes and non-athletes alike. Our podiatric surgeons at Manhattan Podiatry Associates, PC, see many patients in Midtown and Downtown Manhattan for ligament injuries in ankles.

Take a moment as our team shares seven treatments for one of the most common ligament injuries: ankle sprains.

The most common ligament injury

There are many different types of ligament injuries, including ACL (anterior cruciate ligament) tears, MCL (medial collateral ligament) sprains, and PCL (posterior cruciate ligament) injuries. 

However, the most commonly injured ligament is the ankle ligament, specifically the lateral ligaments. The lateral ligaments in your ankle include your anterior talo-fibular ligament (ATFL), your calcaneo-fibular ligament (CFL), and your posterior talo-fibular ligament.

When you sprain your ankle, you’re actually stretching or tearing the ligaments on the outside of your ankle. Ankle sprains are classed as grade 1 (mild overstretch), grade 2 (partial tear of the ligament), or grade 3 (complete tear).

7 treatments for ankle sprains

Once our Manhattan Podiatry Associates, PC, team confirms that you’ve sprained your ankle, we recommend the right treatment based on whether you have a grade 1, 2, or 3 sprain.

Seven common treatments include:

The RICE protocol

For mild to moderate ligament injuries, the RICE protocol is the first line of treatment. RICE stands for rest, ice, compression, and elevation.

Resting your ankle reduces stress on your injured ligament, while applying a cold compression or ice pack helps decrease inflammation and alleviate pain. Compression with a bandage provides support and reduces swelling. Elevating your foot above the level of your heart also helps minimize fluid accumulation.

Immobilization

In cases of severe ligament injuries or complete tears, immobilization with a splint, brace, or cast may be necessary to stabilize your ankle and prevent further damage. Immobilization allows your ligament to heal properly and reduces the risk of complications associated with excessive movement.

Medication

Over-the-counter, nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) such as ibuprofen or naproxen can help relieve pain and reduce inflammation. Take only as directed.

Extracorporeal shock wave therapy (ESWT) 

ESWT is a non-invasive treatment that uses energy-dense acoustic waves (shockwaves) to help your body heal naturally. 

Your Manhattan Podiatry Associates provider uses a handheld device to deliver the shockwaves. Each shockwave improves blood flow to the affected ligament in your ankle. Your blood is rich with oxygen, nutrients, and healing factors, so more blood flow boosts the healing process.

In addition to improved blood flow, ESWT:

Studies also show that ESWT can help improve ankle stability, range of motion, and dynamic balance.

MLS laser therapy

MLS laser therapy is a drug-free, surgery-free option for ankle sprains. It doesn’t mask your pain; rather, MLS laser therapy helps your body heal.

MLS laser therapy can help:

The best part: MLS laser therapy can complement other treatments for ligament injuries such as rest and physical therapy. 

Surgery

In cases of severe ligament tears or injuries that don't respond to conservative treatments, your provider may recommend surgery to repair or reconstruct your damaged ligament with biologics.

Surgical techniques vary depending on the location and severity of your injury, but they typically involve repairing your torn ligament or using graft tissue to reconstruct it.

Physical therapy

Physical therapy can play many roles when it comes to ankle sprains. Physical therapy can help improve your range of motion and strengthen the muscles that support your ankle while you explore nonsurgical treatments, but it can also help you after surgery.

Physical therapy — whether you have surgery or not — can help prevent chronic ankle instability from a poorly healed ankle sprain.

Swift treatment matters 

If you’ve injured your ankle, don’t delay treatment. The sooner you seek help, the sooner you can get the care you need and avoid complications like chronic instability. As many as 40% of ankle sprains can turn into chronic issues if they aren’t treated properly from the get-go.

Our team can confirm that you’ve sprained your ankle (and rule out any other injuries such as fractures) and confirm the grade of your sprain. Depending on the extent of your sprain, we’ll get you started with the right treatment. 

Following treatment, stick to a structured rehabilitation program to optimize your recovery and prevent re-injury. Our team helps you gradually reintroduce activities and makes sure your injured ligament heals properly.

Questions? Schedule an appointment with our team today.

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