Tendons and ligaments help our bodies function as we move through the world. If you’ve ever experienced an injury to one or the other, you know that it can cause pain and significantly limit your mobility and daily activities.
Tendons and ligaments serve similar functions but are different. Tendons are the connective tissues that attach muscles to bones in the human body, serving as a critical component in facilitating movement. An example is the Achilles tendon, which connects the calf muscle to the heel bone.
Ligaments, on the other hand, connect bones to other bones, providing support and stability to the skeleton and thus, the entire body. An example of a ligament is the ACL (anterior cruciate ligament), which connects the thigh bone to the shin bone and helps control knee joint stability.
Healing and Recovery
The road to recovery from a tendon or ligament injury can be long and frustrating, and may feel like progress comes slowly. However, there are various techniques and methods you can use to promote healing and accelerate the recovery process.
Whether you’re an athlete looking to get back in the game or an individual trying to regain full mobility and daily function, understanding common injuries and treatment recommendations can help you on your path to recovery.
Common Tendon and Ligament Injuries
Common tendon injuries can include conditions such as strains, tendinosis, and tendon tears.
Tendons are susceptible to injury from overuse, aging, and sudden trauma, making common tendon injuries a prevalent issue for many people. Tennis elbow (lateral epicondylitis), jumper’s knee (patellar tendinitis) and achilles tendinitis are common tendon injuries that are caused by repetitive motion and involve inflammation of the tendons.
One of the most common ligament injuries is a sprain, which occurs when the connective tissue is stretched or torn due to sudden twisting or impact. The severity of a sprain can vary depending on the degree of tearing, with grade 1 sprains involving mild overstretching and grade 3 sprains involving a complete tear of the ligament.
Have you or someone you know had an anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) or medial collateral ligament (MCL) injury? Both of these are examples of ligament injuries in the knee that commonly happen during direct impact in sports such as football, basketball and hockey.
Another type of ligament injury can occur as a result of sudden trauma or overuse, which also results in tearing of the connective tissue. Activities such as sports or manual labor that require repetitive motion or sudden movements can increase the risk of ligament injuries.
Other Soft Tissue Injuries
In addition to tendon and ligament injuries, there are other types of soft tissue injuries that can impact the body’s mobility and overall function:
- Bruises. Bruises are a common example of a soft tissue injury, occurring when blood vessels underneath the skin are damaged, leading to discoloration and tenderness.
- Inflammation. Inflammation can occur in soft tissues and is characterized by redness, swelling, and pain.
- Overuse. Overuse can happen from repetitive motions or excessive strain on a particular area of the body.
These types of injuries can have a significant impact on daily life and physical activity, so it’s important to take steps to prevent them and to seek medical attention if an injury occurs.
Treatment Options for Tendon and Ligament Injuries
When it comes to treating tendon and ligament injuries, there are various options available depending on the severity of the injury.
- RICE. Rest, ice, compression, and elevation (RICE) are commonly used techniques to manage pain and swelling associated with soft tissue injuries.
- Medications. In some cases, medications such as anti-inflammatory drugs or painkillers may also be recommended.
- Manual Therapy. Manual therapy, which may include physical therapy or specialized hand therapy, can also be an effective treatment option for certain types of tendon and ligament injuries.
For more severe injuries, surgery may be necessary to repair the damaged tissue and restore full function.
At WWMG, we offer a range of treatment options for tendon and ligament injuries, including orthopedic surgery, physiatry and hand therapy, to help patients recover and regain mobility as quickly and safely as possible. Foot and ankle injuries can be treated at our Podiatry or our Orthopedic clinic.
Prevention of injuries is a crucial aspect of maintaining good physical health and reducing the risk of injury. Some common tips for injury prevention include engaging in regular exercise to improve strength and flexibility, wearing appropriate protective gear during high-risk activities such as sports or manual labor jobs, and taking rest breaks to avoid overuse injuries.
By following these preventative measures and working closely with healthcare professionals, you can reduce their risk of injury and enjoy better overall physical health, function, and mobility.
In addition to treating injuries, WWMG’s Orthopedic specialists provide valuable guidance on how to prevent injuries and maintain optimal physical function. Experiencing joint or ligament pain? Request an appointment with a WWMG Orthopedic doctor today.