Ligament Injuries

By Justin Delicato, PTA

Ligament Injuries

A ligament is an elastic tissue around a joint that connects bone to bone and provides the bone with stability and support. Ligaments are strong, but they can be stretched or even torn. Ligaments are located in your shoulder, elbow, knee, and ankle, as well as other parts of the body. When a ligament tear happens, it causes instability within the joint, and the ligament is torn. The most common ligament injuries occur in the knee, ankle, and elbow. Sporting activities typically cause these injuries. Below we will discuss the most common ligament injury for the knee, ankle, and elbow.

ligament injuries of the knee from sports

Ligament injury of the knee

What are the Most Common Ligament Injuries?

The knee has the most common ligament injuries especially related to sports.  Of the knee ligaments which are injured, the ACL is most common ligament which is injured.

  • Knee
  • Ankle
  • Shoulder
  • Elbow

What Are the Symptoms of a Ligament Injury?

  • Painful and tender to touch
  • Swelling
  • Bruising
  • Instability within the joint
  • Audible “popping” sound at the time of injury


What are the 4 Major Knee Ligaments?

image of knee anatomy

Anatomy of the knee

The human knee anatomy illustration

  • ACL (anterior cruciate ligament)- controls forward movement and rotational movement of shinbone
  • PCL (posterior cruciate ligament)- control backward movement
  • MCL (medial cruciate ligament)- provides the inside of your knee with stability
  • LCL (lateral cruciate ligament)- provides the outside of your knee with stability

The most common knee ligament injury is of the ACL. ACL injuries occur when your feet plant in one direction and your knee is twisted in another. The most common sport in this injury occurs in football. If you would like to learn about ACL Reconstruction Surgery, this VIDEO may help.

What Are the Main Ankle Ligaments?

  • Anterior talofibular ligament- most common ligament injured in the ankle.
  • Posterior talofibular ligament- limits dorsiflexion
  • Calcaneofibular ligament- resists adduction.

The Anterior Talofibular ligament is the weakest and most commonly injured ligament in the ankle. This ligament absorbs most of the impact when the foot is planted unnaturally or when the ankle twists awkwardly.

image of runner grabbing twisted ankle injury

A lateral ankle sprain

To learn more about Ankle Sprains, this VIDEO may help.

Shoulder Ligament Injuries

When the ligaments holding the shoulder together tear, they can no longer hold the joint together. Also known as a dislocated shoulder. Falling on the shoulder or a violent twisting can cause the shoulder to dislocate. Athletes are especially susceptible to shoulder problems. Depending on the severity of the injury, it may take two to three weeks to adequately heal. In severe cases, the shoulder may need surgery. To help with pain, you should apply ice right after your injury. You should limit the movement of the shoulder by keeping it in a sling.


Elbow Ligaments Injuries

image of Baseball pitcher with Injuries from overuse

Ligament injuries can occur from overuse

The most common ligament injury in the elbow is the UCL or the ulnar collateral ligament. This ligament injury typically occurs in baseball players due to the overuse of the elbow. A commonly known surgery for the repair of this ligament is Tommy John Surgery. An injury such as falling on an outstretched arm could also cause damage to this ligament as well.

Related Article: Foot Pain in Athletes, ACL Tears or Sprain, and Ankle Ligament Injuries.


Where Do I Go If I Have a Ligament Injury?

The Jacksonville Orthopaedic Institute has a dedicated team of physicians that are focused on your orthopedic treatment. If you are experiencing any of the symptoms above and would like to see a physician regarding this, call 904-JOI-2000, schedule online, or click the link below. For JOI Rehab appointments, please call 904-858-7045.

By: Justin Delicato, PTA

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