Ligaments are bands of elastic, fibrous tissues around the joints that connect two bones to enhance joint stability. Strained ligaments can cause sharp pain, swelling and an inability to move the joint. Fortunately, there are a number of ways to treat them, no matter the severity of the injury. Mild tears or sprains can be treated with ice, medication and physical therapy, but severe sprains may require surgery.
If you are suffering from a sprained leg, read on below to discover ways that may help you find relief and heal faster.
Put some ice on that knee
Ice or ice packs promote vasoconstriction, or the constriction of blood and blood vessels. Swelling and inflammation slow down when the blood supply to the injured area is reduced. Ice also numbs the nerves to help reduce pain. All of this promotes quicker healing for the torn or strained ligament.
Apply ice to the strained ligament to alleviate pain and swelling for 20–30 minutes at a time, three to four times a day.
Have a doctor examine your knee
Visit your doctor as soon as possible for an exam. Only a doctor can make an accurate assessment of the damage to your ligament. From there, your doctor will advise you on how to treat the injury.
During the initial test, your doctor will gently press around the joint and determine which ligaments are injured. They may also try and gently move the limb or have you do a couple of small exercises to check its range of motion. This is to determine the degree of the injury.
Sprains are graded according to its severity. They can be minor (Grade 1), more extensive (Grade 2) or severe (Grade 3). If it’s severe, you may be required to undergo surgery to reconnect a completely torn ligament. Sprains, often classified as either Grade 1 or 2, are painful and, if not healed properly, eventually lead to weak joints, chronic swelling and pain.
Don’t wait a few days to see if the joint gets any better before going to see your doctor. This may significantly delay your recovery.
Secure your knee with compression wraps or braces
A compression wrap or bandage is a long strip of stretchable cloth that you can wrap around a sprain or strain. It applies a gentle pressure on the area, which stops swelling. Using a compression wrap along with a brace immobilizes the joint, protecting it from further damage and providing it with support as it heals.
The type of brace that you will use will depend on the type and extent of your injury as determined by your doctor. It might feel very uncomfortable, but be sure to wear the brace at all times, especially when sleeping. When you’re asleep, you won’t have much control over your body’s movements and, without a brace, there is a high chance that you could re-injure yourself.
Depending on your doctor’s instructions, you may be able to remove the brace after one or two weeks to practice range of motion and flexibility exercises.
Take NSAIDs to ease pain
You may use over-the-counter non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) to aid you as you recover from strained ligaments. By reducing pain, you will be able to do therapeutic exercises that speed up healing.
Take over-the-counter medications regularly for two or three days. If you’re still experiencing significant pain or discomfort afterwards, talk to your doctor. They may prescribe medicine specifically for your condition.
Get on a physical therapy routine
Get physical therapy once the swelling and pain has decreased. Physical therapy strengthens the injured joint and improves its range of motion. It may also reduce the likelihood of re-injury to the affected area. Your doctor may prescribe exercises or stretches for you to do, which will vary depending on which ligament was damaged and the severity of the injury. You will need to do these exercises at least once a day.
You can also get the help of a licensed physical therapist to teach you exercises to be performed in a clinical setting as well as some you can do at home.
Maintain a recovery diet
As you heal, your body will need significant amounts of nutrients. Not eating enough can delay the healing process.
You need to consume foods that are rich in proteins, vitamins and minerals that will help your body heal. This means you need to stock up on fruits and vegetables to repair tissues. Vitamin A is key to a healthy immune system and promotes cell growth, which builds new protein for your ligaments. Vitamin C also boosts your immune system, and this reduces inflammation around the injury and prevents infections. Calcium in dairy products such as eggs, milk and yogurt rebuilds your damaged ligaments to help them heal faster. The vitamin D in milk and other dairy products cause your body to absorb calcium more efficiently.
Surgery for severe ligament tears
If the ligament is severely torn, your doctor may recommend you to undergo surgery. A surgeon must reattach the ligament to bone and get rid of damaged fibers around the ligament to ensure proper healing. If there is any other structural damage in the joint, your doctor will repair this as well. You can discuss the advantages and risks of surgery before proceeding with the process.
Got a question or anything I can help with? My name is Steve Stretton, and I’m the owner and manager at Gelpacks.com. You can drop me a line here. Good luck!