Will A Torn Ligament Heal Itself?
A ligament is an extremely strong and resilient piece of tissue. It can be pulled and stretched without damage if properly conditioned. If it is overextended, however, it can tear causing extreme pain and inflammation, along with reduced mobility.
What Causes A Ligament To Tear?
Ligaments are made from strong connective tissues that are somewhat rigid but still flexible. Stretching a ligament often occurs when you pivot or overextend a joint. If a ligament is stretched to the point where a tear occurs, your healing time may be twice as long. Ligaments do not have the same blood supply as muscles or tendons meaning they can take much longer to heal.
Do You Need Treatment Or Not?
Minor injuries to ligaments may only require self-care, but any injury that affects your mobility or range of motion should be evaluated by a doctor.
- Lack of blood flow to the injured area – Cartilage and ligaments are made of connective tissue. They contain very few blood vessels which limit their ability to receive the nutrients they need to heal.
- Connective tissues can easily be re-injured – When a ligament is stretched, it can remain weak for several weeks, even months. As long as the injury is healing, it’s important to keep the joint as stable as possible to prevent re-injuring the area.
- A complete tear may require surgery – A complete tear rarely heals itself. If your doctor identifies a complete tear, they may recommend arthroscopic surgery to repair the damage.
Treatment Options For Torn Ligaments
Minor ligament tears are characterized by intense pain, inflammation, and stiffness within the joint. If a tear is mild, self-care may be all that’s needed. Moderate tears may require the joint to be stabilized using a brace or wrap. Severe tears often require surgery in which the ligament is removed and replaced with a surrogate material. In some cases, stem cell therapy may speed up the healing process.
After any type of surgical procedure, your healing will depend on the type of self-care you perform. This can mean using the R.I.C.E. (rest, ice, compression, elevation) method or attending physical therapy on a regular basis. It may also mean wearing a brace to make sure the joint remains stabilized at all times. Ligaments take longer to heal and although they may heal on their own with time, it’s best to seek medical attention to make sure the injured area heals correctly without a lot of excessive scarring.
With proper medical attention, you can also reduce your risk of re-injuring the area and prevent chronic pain from becoming a constant problem. If you feel you have an injury that requires medical attention, don’t take chances by letting it heal on its own. Visit your doctor to find out exactly what has happened. If a ligament is torn, the medical attention you receive will speed up the recovery process and ensure the injury heals as it should.
Don’t have a doctor? Try BackFit! See our complete list of locations here.