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Ligament Sprains of the Knee and Chiropractic Treatment
Ligament sprains are a common type of knee injury that can occur due to a variety of factors, from direct trauma to overuse.
Knee ligament sprains happen when the ligament is subjected to excessive stress, causing it to stretch or tear. This can lead to inflammation and joint instability, making it difficult to move or perform normal activities. In this article, we’ll take a closer look at ligament sprains of the knee, the most commonly affected ligaments, and what you can expect if you experience this type of injury.
Understanding Ligament Sprains of the Knee
The knee is a complex joint that is supported by several ligaments, which help to keep it stable and functioning properly.
When one of these ligaments is injured, it can cause pain, swelling, and limited mobility. The two most commonly affected ligaments in the knee are the medial collateral ligament (MCL), located on the inside of the knee, and the anterior cruciate ligament (ACL), which is situated inside the knee. Depending on the severity of the injury, a ligament sprain can cause swelling and bruising directly over the affected area, making it difficult to bear weight or move the joint.
Classification of Ligament Injuries
Ligament injuries are classified into three groups according to the severity of the injury:
- 1st degree sprain (mild): Some tearing or overstretch of the fibres (less than 10%), no joint instability, mild pain, minimal swelling, no bruising, there are trigger-points present in the thigh musculature.
- 2nd degree sprain (moderate): Separation and tearing of fibres (between 11-50%) causing moderate instability and moderate to severe pain, swelling and stiffness.
- 3rd degree sprain (severe): 51-100% tear of the ligament, gross instability, severe pain, swelling. Usually requires lengthy immobilisation and/or surgery. If a total rupture, stress test may not be painful, a total rupture needs surgery.
The most common cause of ligament sprains is excessive force directed towards the knee. Which structure is injured depends on the amount of force, the direction of the force and position of the knee.
For example, the most common type is a force directed to the outside of the knee, which:
- if mild, causes medial collateral ligament sprain,
- if more severe: causes the above and meniscal tear and possibly, anterior cruciate ligament sprain,
- and if very sever: all of the above and posterior cruciate ligament sprain.
Treatment of ligament sprains
Chiropractic treatment of 1st and 2nd degree sprains involve:
- Ultrasound, interferential, laser treatment,
- Soft tissue work: cross friction, deep tissue massage, trigger point therapy,
- Gradual introduction of exercises to strengthen the muscles and improve proprioception, nerve and muscle function.
Chiropractors treat 1st and 2nd degree sprains but 3rd degree sprains will require surgery first to repair it. After which, chiropractic treatment is an ideal way of helping you after surgery to rehabilitate the injury to regain the optimal function and fitness. The aim of the chiropractic treatment is to minimise scar tissue formation and build up the strength and reflexes that protect the joint. An injured ligament rarely becomes as strong as before the injury but effective rehabilitation and treatment will minimise the risk of long term problems.
How long will it take to get better?
Although grade 1 sprains are often weight-bearing within 1 week, grade 2 sprains commonly take 3-6 weeks before you can return to normal activities, research shows that it can take up to 6 months before the healing is complete. In reality, ligament sprains can take a long time to heal and there is no set time for recovery.
Research shows that it can take up to 6 months before the healing is complete. The rate of recovery depends very much on your ability to heal, the severity of the injury, how long it has been present and your compliance to treatment. If the underlying cause of the problem is not corrected you can start to develop osteoarthritis or ‘wear and tear” most often as a result of instability.
The sooner you deal with a problem the quicker you respond, so why don’t you give us a call today. Or alternatively, contact us here.