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Monday, March 7, 2011

Avoid Torn Ligaments & Tendons

Treatments for Sprained or Torn Ligaments and Tendons

If you've ever had a ligament or tendon injury you know how painful and debilitating it can be. Treatments of these injuries depend on how badly damaged the ligament or tendon is. In mild to moderate injuries, treatment usually includes:

•The RICE formula (rest, ice, compression, elevation)

•A short course of anti-inflammatory medications.

Elbow tendon and shoulder ligament injuries can take longer to heal as it is difficult to completely rest the ligaments and tendons of these areas.

More severe sprains and/or tears may often involve the following:

•Surgery to the ligament or tendon to restore the proper tension to keep bones/joint in proper alignment for correct movement. X-rays and/or MRI films are used to see how badly the ligament or tendon injury is.

•Arthroscopic surgery of the anterior cruciate ligament of the knee sometimes is necessary to repair the ligament. Under anesthesia, several ports are made in the knee for an insertion of an arthroscope to enable the surgeon to see/repair the ligament directly.

•AC ligament separations or tears: Reconnective/reconstructive surgery is often necessary.
Recovery from ACL and AC ligament injuries can be slow and may require several weeks of physical therapy. Afterwards treatments include whirlpool, range of motion exercises, direct ultrasound stimulation, heat, and/or ice to the affected areas.

Preventing Ligament and Tendon Injuries

As I tell my patients, the best way to avoid ligament and tendon injuries is to make sure you take time to warm up before exercising. I can't stress how important this is, especially in people just starting an exercise regimen, as ligament and tendon injuries can seriously curb their enthusiasm for future exercise. Here are some basic tips on how to warm up each section of ligaments and tendons that are most prone to injury:

•General stretching: Lay on the floor, raise your arms overhead and stretch out like a cat does, slowly twisting in several directions. Do this for about 5 minutes, breathing in deeply as you go. Your muscles, tendons, ligaments all need oxygen to fire correctly.

•Shoulder shrug/rotations: Slowly shrug your shoulders, bring them up to your ears and rotate them backward slowly. This loosens up tension in the large muscles of the neck and shoulders.

•Elbow stretches: Hold your arm out straight ahead, slowly flex your hand/arm back towards you to the mid position and stop, lower your hand back down.

•Leg stretches: Stand straight, bend over and touch the floor with your fingertips and then slowly, gradually try to flatten your palm on the floor. Be sure to keep your feet flat on the floor and do not twist to the side. This stretches your hamstrings and loosens up tight knee and leg muscles.

•Achilles stretches: Stand facing a wall, about 1 foot away from it, lean into the wall, placing the palms of your hands on it. Extend one leg back behind you on the ball of your foot. Slowly, deliberately, bounce your heel towards the floor. This stretches out the Achilles tendon and helps to avoid heel spurs as well from a tight Achilles pulling on the calcaneus bone.

•Weight Train: Start with light weight training to strengthen ligaments and tendons, build up gradually.

•Get Enough Sleep: Inadequate sleep doesn't allow your muscles, tendons, ligaments to re-strengthen themselves correctly and makes them more prone to injury.

•Drink Water! Your muscles, ligaments and tendons, need water to move fluidly and remove lactic acid that builds up during exercise. It also helps create adequate fluid for joint cushioning. Drink half your body weight in ounces of water per day, more if you are exercising in very hot, humid weather. Sport drinks can also help keep you hydrated.

Source: Mark Bromson, M.D.

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