What Is a Torn Ligament?

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A torn ligament is a sprain, according to WebMD. Sprains occur when ligaments, the fibrous bands that attach muscle to bone, become stretched or torn. Doctors determine the grade of a sprain by the severity of the tear, ranging from a mild tear to a completely torn or ruptured ligament.

Upon examination, doctors grade sprains on a scale of one to three, with grade I sprains being the mildest, explains WebMD. Grade III sprains occur when a ligament is ruptured or completely torn. These severe sprains can feel like a broken bone because the person finds it impossible to put weight on the joint or use it. Severe sprains often require crutches or a cast. If the ligament tear is exceptionally severe, surgery may be required to repair it. Doctors also usually prescribe physical therapy.

The most common sprains occur in the ankle, with approximately 25,000 occurring daily, states WebMD. Thumb and wrist sprains are also common in sports. The injury occurs when the body is forced out of its normal position. Symptoms of a sprain include inflammation and sometimes bruising. People with sprains can feel mild to severe pain depending on how badly the ligaments are damaged. If the pain and swelling are not better in a day or two, medical treatment is advised.