Ligament Sprains: Ligament Basics

In order to understand ligament sprains, it is important to understand what a ligament is and how ligament sprains can occur. Ligaments link bones together at joints. They provide support and strength to the joint. So thinking about how many different joints we have in our bodies means that we have a lot of different ligaments that could potentially be injured. A ligament should consist of ninety percent Type 1 Collagen, nine percent Type 3 Collagen, and one percent fibroblast cells. Fibroblast cells are the cells in the body that produce the collagen. The collagen fibers and their organization is what make the ligament strong. Type 1 Collagen has the most tensible strength. Type 3 Collagen is immature collagen and does not have much tensible strength. However, it takes about three months to develop into mature Type 1 Collagen. The mature collagen really is the most important element of the ligament. The collagen fibers are arranged in a longitudinal pattern to reduce the stress placed on the ligament as much as possible.

However, stability and strength are not the only functions of the ligament. The ligament actually is involved in brain processes as well. Ligaments provide input to the brain about what position the different joints in our body are in without looking. This is what allows us to be involved in such complex athletic activities. Ironically enough it is these complex athletic activities that can damage our ligaments and cause the ligament sprains. There are three grades of ligament sprains. A grade one sprain damages only a few of the collagen fibers and there is usually a small amount of swelling that occurs. A grade two sprain does extensive damage to the collagen fibers and then from that swelling and intense pain does occur. A grade three sprain actually completely ruptures the ligament. This will cause really intense pain, swelling, and of course joint instability. This type of sprain will sometimes involve surgical repair. The most common treatment for sprains is rest, ice, compression, and elevation. However, there are many different herbs, pain medications, anti-inflammatory drugs, exercises, and splints or braces that are frequently used to help the healing process. Ligament sprains can minor or serious, but it is important to see a doctor to establish how bad the injury actually is. Most ligament injuries heal quickly and do not cause too much of a disruption to daily life. Although, some of the more serious ligament injuries in the neck, back, and high ankle can be quite disruptive, but it is important to follow the treatment regime recommended by the physician so that it can heal properly.