Etymology: L, ligare, to bind; AS, teran, to destroy
a complete or partial rupture of a ligament caused by an injury to a joint, as by a sudden twisting motion or a forceful blow.
observations Ligamental tears may occur at any joint but are most common in the knees, where they typically involve the medial, lateral, and posterior ligaments and the anterior and posterior cruciate ligaments. Usually more than one structure is injured because of the way the structures connect with and support each other. The pathological features of knee ligamental tears depend on the location and severity of the injury. A mild tear may cause little damage, with tenderness, swelling, and pain with stress.
interventions Treatment depends on the severity of the injury. Rest, compression, applications of heat and cold, elevation, and early use are usually recommended for mild tears. Injection of an antiinflammatory agent may be desirable. Treatment for a moderate tear in which few fibers have been completely severed is protective. In addition to the above measures, the joint is aspirated and supported. Treatment for a severe, complete tear is restorative and may include immobilization followed by physical therapy or, if necessary, by surgical repair or reconstruction.
nursing considerations Ligamental tears of the knee joint are extremely common in young adults and are often associated with sports injuries. Good physical condition may help prevent many injuries, and proper care during healing is necessary to prevent permanent disability, which is often accompanied by joint instability, stiffness, or pain.