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Ligament Injuries

What Are Ligament Injuries?

The ligaments in your body connect bones or cartilage together at a joint. Made of tough, flexible connective tissues, these ligaments can become injured as a result of overuse, sudden injury or illness. Ligament injuries can occur anywhere in the body. The most common ligament injuries often occur at the:

  • Knee (including ACL injuries)

  • Ankle

  • Foot 

  • Shoulder

  • Elbow

  • Wrist


Symptoms of a ligament injury can vary greatly depending on the severity of the injury and the location. Symptoms may include:

  • Pain at the joint

  • Sudden popping sound at the injury

  • Swelling

  • Tenderness

  • Difficulty moving the joint

  • Bruising

Treatment Options

Most ligament injuries can initially be cared for by applying the “RICE” method:

  • Rest: Take a break from strenuous physical activity, including activities that cause pain or discomfort. Find things that don’t cause pain but keep you on the move.

  • Ice: Use an ice pack for 15-20 minutes, and repeat every one to two hours to reduce pain and swelling.

  • Compression: Wrap an elastic bandage around the injury, taking care not to wrap the injury too tightly.

  • Elevation: Elevate your injured joint above your heart to reduce swelling.

Over-the-counter anti-inflammatories or pain relievers can also help reduce swelling and improve pain.

If your injury does not improve after a few days of rest and self-care, contact a sports medicine or orthopedic provider. A specialist will do a complete examination of your injury to fully understand the extent of your injury. Together, you will make a treatment plan to help reduce pain and strengthen the injured area. Treatment may include:

  • Physical therapy – A physical therapist can guide your through exercises to help strengthen your injured joint.

  • Brace/Wrap – A brace is sometimes used to provide support and reduce swelling.

  • Medication – Anti-inflammatories or pain medicine can help reduce swelling and pain.

  • Injections – Corticosteroid and platelet-rich plasma (PRP) injections may be recommended based on the specific injury to help reduce swelling, relieve pain and help your injury heal.

  • Surgery – If a conservative treatment approach does not address your ligament injury, your doctor may discuss surgery. At Temple Health, we’re proud to offer the latest advances in ligament surgery, including ACL reconstruction surgery and specialized hand, wrist, ankle, foot and elbow surgery.

Ready for an Appointment?

If you're experiencing signs or symptoms of ligament injuries, schedule an appointment or call 800-TEMPLE-MED (800-836-7536) today.

Learn more about our doctors and care team who diagnose and treat ligament injuries.