Orthopedics - Tendon and Ligament Repair
Tendons and ligaments are dense connective tissues which constitute an important part of the skeletal system. They facilitate bones and muscles to form a connected network in the body. Both allow body movement and ensure flexibility.
These fibrous bands are often vulnerable to injuries. Also, these structures become weaker with age and injuries are often sustained by aged people.
To know more, you can consult an orthopedic surgeon near you or you can visit an orthopedic hospital near you.
What are tendons and ligaments?
Tendons and ligaments are thick fibrous bands of connective tissues, rich in collagen. Both of them share the same composition. However, they differ in location and functions.
Tendon attaches a muscle to a bone and thus helps in movement of joints. On the contrary, ligament joins bone to bone and helps in keeping the structure together and stable.
The crisscross or interwoven patterns of collagen fibres in ligaments provide strength, flexibility and stability required for movement of bone joints. On the other hand, tendons are more elastic and supportive due to the presence of collagen fibres running parallely.
However, any injury in ligament or tendon can severely affect the action or movement of body joints.
What are the injuries that affect tendons and ligaments? What are the symptoms?
Tendon and ligament injuries are very common and can severely cause tissue damage if left untreated.
These are usually more common and sustained by athletes or people in sports.
Tendon injury is often known as ‘strain’ which is caused by its tearing or overstretching. Strains usually affect leg, foot or back. Symptoms involve pain, swelling, weakness and development of muscular cramps.
‘Tendonitis’ is another type of tendon injury, caused by repetitive and incorrect athletic movements. Inflammation and irritation of the tendon are its major symptoms. It often occurs as an overuse injury and may affect a person over many months.
‘Subluxation’ occurs when the tendon tends to slip or move out of place. It results in extreme pain and weakness in the joints.
‘Tendon rupture’ may also occur due to immediate and chronic trauma or in combination of both.
Ligament injury or ‘sprain’ is caused by stretching or tearing of ligaments. Symptoms involve inflammation, pain and swelling in affected joints. Ankle, knee and wrist are highly prone to sprain.
Ligament injury may range from mild sprain to complete tear of ligament, causing extreme pain and complete damage of bone joints.
Extreme stress, trauma or overuse of joints, combined with tendonitis, are among the major causes of soft tissue injuries.
What are the treatments available for tendon and ligament injuries?
Mild tears of tendons and ligament are usually treated in a similar way. However, it is important to identify the type of injury, followed by its appropriate treatment.
Following are the potential treatments available for ligament or tendon repair:
- RICE METHOD:
The RICE method is often the first step in the treatment of mild sprain or strain. It can effectively heal immediate injuries.
The basic approach of RICE includes:
- Rest: Required to reduce the inflammation and pain.
- Ice: Application of ice reduces swelling and pain associated with an injury.
- Compression: Application of bandage may reduce further damage in surrounding tissues and improve the healing process.
- Elevate: Elevating the injury above the height of heart can relieve pain and swelling.
Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medicines are highly effective in relieving pain. Chronic injury may require immediate application of corticosteroid to reduce inflammation and assist healing.
- EPAT shockwave therapy:
EPAT therapy is the most effective therapy. It is a regenerative shockwave therapy.
The impulse pressure waves delivered deep in the damaged tissues allows their breakdown, which in turn increases the blood flow at the injury site. It potentially reduces pain and inflammation.
Severe injuries require surgery; it reconnects and stabilizes the soft connective tissues at the site of damage.
- Physical therapy:
It is a rehabilitation therapy required after a surgical treatment. It helps in strengthening the scarred tissue. Patients are made to learn proper techniques to avoid injury in the future.
- Cast or brace:
Severe damage of connective tissue requires cast, sprint or brace. This helps in keeping the damaged tissues immobilized. It improves the healing process which may take 7 to 8 weeks.
When do you need to see a doctor?
Mild tears of tendons or ligaments can be potentially treated at home via medication and physical therapy.
However, extreme pain and swelling requires skilled diagnosis and treatment under the supervision of an orthopaedic doctor.
Request an appointment at Apollo Spectra Hospitals, Kanpur, Uttar Pradesh.
Call 18605002244 to book an appointment.
What are the preventive measures to avoid injury?
Following precautions must be taken to prevent tendon or ligament injury:
- Warm up your body via mild aerobic activities before exercising.
- Start slowly and gradually before exercising.
- Wear proper protective gears and shoes to avoid any discomfort.
- Maintain healthy weight.
- Maintain balance between cardio and strength training exercises.
- Stretching activities after exercise.
- Avoid workout whenever feeling tired.
Injuries associated with tendons and ligaments are sometimes extremely painful and difficult to diagnose. Mild injuries can be efficiently treated at home. However, major injuries require proper medication and surgery under the supervision of an orthopedic doctor. If left untreated, it may cause chronic inflammation and secondary injuries. Thus, people should seek immediate medical help for effective treatment.
There are various factors which may potentially complicate the injury of tendon and ligament. Overuse while playing sports, trauma due to fall, weakness around the muscles or twisting in an unusual position are among the major factors.
Physicians carefully observe the symptoms and review recent activities to detect the injury. MRI and ultrasound are imaging techniques which allow detection of soft tissue injuries.
NO, X-rays do not allow detection of soft tissue injuries associated with tendon, ligament or cartilage.