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Ligament Damage and Back Pain

By: Jo Johnson - Updated: 21 Apr 2017 | comments*Discuss
Ligaments; Strain; Sprain; Stability;

The purpose of ligaments is to connect bone to bone. They are made up of very tough and strong fibrous connective tissue that has very little ‘give’. In fact some are so strong that they have no mobility at all and inhibit certain movements.The study of the ligaments is called ‘desmology’.

Spinal Ligaments

There are 14 main spinal ligaments and their function is to provide structural stability to the spine. The primary spinal ligament is called the ‘ligamentum flavum’ and runs the length of the spine connecting vertebra to vertebra.

Causes of Damage

The main causes of damage to the spinal ligaments are the result of trauma or sudden and excessive movements. These movements can be from twisting, incorrect lifting technique or an awkward bend.

These actions can cause the ligaments to become over-stretched causing a strain or sprain. In severe injury, the ligament can actually tear.

Poor posture and not standing straight (favouring leaning on one leg more than the other), can also cause the lower spinal and pelvic ligaments to gradually become stretched which results in spinal deformation. As this happens over a long period of time, treatment options are limited.

Sports injuries are often the cause of ligament damage. Team sports where collisions occur can cause sudden ‘jolting’ of the vertebrae making the ligaments stretch to absorb the impact. Racket sports may require the person to over-stretch (such as during a serve), again causing the ligaments to stretch outside their normal capabilities.

Weight gain and pregnancy are other causes for ligament damage as the increase in the curvature of the lower back forces major adjustments in the spinal column, pulling the ligaments forward with the vertebrae.

Growing older may occasionally result in the ligaments hardening and depositing particles of calcium salts into the surrounding tissues (calcification). These deposits can build up and cause spinal stenosis (Narrowing of the spinal canal), which can be very painful.

Symptoms of Damage

Ligament damage can be very painful and can cause the sufferer to become limited in their movements because of the pain.A strained ligament can also cause pressure to the nerves and result in tingling feeling.

A regular sprain can be accompanied by some bruising or swelling, though in spinal ligament injuries this is not always noticed.

A damaged ligament can cause instability of the joint, particularly if the ligament has torn. Delayed treatment can result in a permanently weakened joint forcing exacerbated wear to the cartilage leading to osteoarthritis.

Treatment of Ligament Damage

Many sufferers are tempted to immobilise themselves with bed rest. This was the treatment of choice many years ago, but experts have now discovered that this actually delays healing, and people should try to carry on as normally as possible with their everyday lives, but being careful not to over exert or move excessively.

Medications are usually anti-inflammatory drugs and if pain is severe, a prescribed analgesic may be required.If the ligament has torn, surgery may sometimes be necessary to repair the damage.

Prevention of Damage

As with any injury, there are certain measures that can be taken that could help prevent any further injuries.Learning correct lifting techniques is probably the most important.

Ensure your have the correct aids and suitable seating in your work place. Try to maintain a steady and healthy weight. Always warm-up properly before playing any sports. Maintaining a good level of overall health, taking regular exercise will help prevent injury, or speed up the recovery process if an injury does occur.

Ligament damage can occur very quickly and is a very common injury, taking some precautionary measures can help to avoid these types of injuries.

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I had prolapse of rectum op in 2001.he also said he had repaired a ligament.cane home couldn't bare down to open bowels.lost 3stone cos darnt eat cos couldn't empty bowels.paid for colon irrigation. Then with straining so much something tore.i could then open bowels but since then I feel that every ligament in pelvic area as given away.i am on morphine and go to pain clinic.nothing is helping.is there anything that can be done to help me
Micky - 21-Apr-17 @ 2:02 PM
My 46ry son has just received his results from a third MRI scan. He has suffered a reoccurringback problem for over a few years,just a slight movement can trigger excrutiatingpain . he has been back and forth to Doctors and hospitals now for over that period time. My sons work is physically demanding as he is a professional landscape gardener . He has two people working for him. but this debilitatingproblem is causing him a lot of distress. has he needs to work . The scan shows his bone structure is fine.the doctor has discharged him after explaining there is nothing more he can do. He has been told he has a slight tear by his own doctor and told rest is theonly cure. He has taken this advise but is no better . He has massage and manipulation once a week which he pays for himself . and is prepared to pay to end this terrible pain . Can you suggest someone that may be able to help . he is looking to go to a sports therapist at the st georges park near to where we live. do you think this is the correct way forward, as no one in the medical profession seem to be able to solve the problem.
? - 23-Sep-15 @ 4:19 PM
I had an MRI after having a lingering case of sciatica, and I was found to have a spinal stenosis with 80 percent occlusion in my lower back.I fortunately do not have degenerative issues, but it is ligament that is causing the narrowing in my spine.I am hoping that ligaments in my spine may be inflamed, and that they will decrease in time, and not be painful.. And consequently might not need steroid shots or surgery... Question:can ligaments get inflamed? Could their returning to their uninflamed size take care of my problem?Thank you for answering my question..... :)
Cecil - 17-Mar-13 @ 12:42 PM
I "sneezed" and tore ligaments in my back 10 weeks ago, I had to go to emergency for the pain, they gave me pain killers and muscle relaxants, but could only take them for so long, now just use Tylenol, and sometimes Tylenol 3, which never gets rid of the pain. I am older, 72, and do a lot of hiking and very active so find I am now limited to walking 1/2 block and the pain is unbearalbe.How long will this last?
none - 31-Jan-13 @ 3:47 PM
I turned in bed and immediately felt excruciating pain in my back and down my right leg the doctor diagnosed this as torn ligaments in the back, although my back is still painful the worst pain is in my leg from my knee to my ankle, the pain feels like severe cramp, this is also more extreme when I am bed so sleeping is very difficultI am taking analgesic and anti inflamatory tablets, and I try to keep as mobile as possible, how long can I expect the pain to last?
none - 28-May-12 @ 4:58 PM
I have ligament tear in right side of my lower back . For the past 2 years my movement s are restricted bcos of this . when i bentmy back it also results in stretched pains from my back to thigh . So Kindly Prescribe me some treatments to recover from this .
Shammu - 23-Mar-12 @ 7:29 PM
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