Stephen J. Schueler, M.D.

Overview Symptoms Evaluation Treatment specialist Home Care pain in adults pain in children using a cane using a walker using crutches warning signs Underlying Cause Types

Torn Ligament Home Care

Home care for a ligament sprain includes:

  • Apply cold compresses:
    • Wrap ice in a moist hand towel. Do not apply ice directly to the skin.
    • Apply for 20-30 minutes, every 1-2 hours, for the first few days.
  • Elevate your extremity:
    • Above your heart if possible
  • Apply an elastic wrap.
    • Re-wrap the joint every 6 hours.
  • Rest the injury.
    • Use a walker.
    • Use crutches.
    • Use a cane.
    • Wear a sling.
  • Apply a splint.
    • The splint may help protect the joint.
  • Stretching exercises
    • Start exercises after 3 days.
    • Gradually increase your activity over 1-2 weeks.
  • Acetaminophen for pain
  • Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medications for pain:
  • Take prescribed medications as directed:
    • Don't skip doses of your medication. This makes them less effective.
    • Be aware of the common side effects that may be caused by your medication.

For more information:

Torn Ligament Pain in Adults

Medications commonly used to control pain and inflammation in adults with ligament sprains include:


Acetaminophen
  • Acetaminophen decreases fever and pain, but does not help inflammation.
  • Adult dosing is 2 regular strength (325 mg) every 4 hours or 2 extra-strength (500 mg) every 6 hours.
  • Maximum dose is 4,000 mg per day.
  • Avoid this drug if you have alcoholism, liver disease or an allergy to the drug. See the package instructions.
  • Common brand names include Tylenol, Panadol, and many others.

Aspirin

Ibuprofen

Naproxen

Ketoprofen

NSAID Precautions

Torn Ligament Pain in Children

Common medications used at home for pain in children with ligament sprains include:


Aspirin and most of the other nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDS) are not used in children except under a doctor's care.

Acetaminophen
  • Acetaminophen decreases fever and pain, but does not help inflammation.
  • Dosing is 10-15 mg per kilogram (5-7 mg per pound) of body weight every 4-6 hours, up to the adult dose.
  • Do not exceed the maximum daily dose.
  • Acetaminophen products come in various strengths. Always follow the package instructions.
  • Avoid this drug in children with liver disease or an allergy to acetaminophen.
  • Common acetaminophen products include Tylenol, Panadol and many others.

Ibuprofen

Naproxen

Torn Ligament Using a Cane

Some patients with ligament sprains in the leg may benefit from the use of a cane. If you are elderly, a cane might allow you to perform normal activities without assistance.

Proper Cane Length
The handle of your cane should reach to the crease in your wrist when you stand upright and the end of the cane is resting on the floor.

Using a Cane
Hold the cane in the hand on the side opposite the leg that needs support. When you step on the bad leg, the cane should be on the ground at the same time. For example, if your left leg is painful or injured, you should use the cane with your right arm. When you step with your left leg, the cane in your right hand and your left leg should be on the ground at the same time.

Follow these steps:

  • Position your cane one small stride ahead and step forward onto the bad leg. Place weight on your bad leg and your arm that is supported by the cane. Your elbow should bend as you support your weight.
  • Step forward with the good leg.

Climbing Stairs with a Cane
When climbing stairs, you should climb one stair at a time, completely resting for a moment on one step before moving to the next step.

Follow these steps:
  • Grasp the handrail with the hand that is on the same side as the bad leg (if possible).
  • Place your weight on the bad leg and on the arm that is supported by the cane.
  • Step up to the next step with your good leg.
  • Transfer your weight to the good leg.
  • Move the cane and the bad leg to the step where you placed the good leg.
  • Support and stabilize yourself with your legs, the cane, and the handrail before moving to the next step.

Going down Stairs with a Cane
When going down stairs, you should go down one stair at a time, completely resting for a moment on one step before moving to the next step.

Follow these steps:
  • Grasp the handrail with the hand that is on the same side as the bad leg (if possible).
  • Place your weight on the good leg.
  • Place your bad leg and the cane on the step below.
  • Transfer your weight to the bad leg and the arm supported by the cane.
  • Move the stable leg to the step where you placed the cane and the bad leg.
  • Support and stabilize yourself with your legs, the cane, and the handrail before moving to the next step.

Torn Ligament Using a Walker

Some people with ligaments sprains in the leg are unable to safely use crutches, and must use a walker to keep weight off the leg. A walker is much more stable than crutches or a cane. A walker allows you to keep weight off one leg while you walk. It is also lends support if both of your legs are unstable or painful.

Walkers with four solid feet on the bottom provide the most stability. The handles of your walker should reach the crease in your wrist when you stand upright and the walker is placed on the floor. You must move slowly when you use a walker.

Using a Walker

  • Place your walker one stride ahead of you. Make sure that the legs of your walker are level on the ground.
  • With both hands, grasp the handles on the walker. Lean forward and support your weight on your arms.
  • Step forward with your good leg. Place your foot in the center of the square that is made by the walker feet.
  • Step forward with the bad leg.

Walker Rules
  • Take small steps when you turn.
  • In order to sit in a chair, back up until your legs touch the chair. Reach behind you in order to feel the seat and then sit down.
  • In order to get up from a chair, push yourself up with your arms and then grasp the handles on the walker.
  • Make sure that the rubber tips on the legs of the walker are tightly fastened. Replace the rubber tips if they become worn.
  • Do not use your walker to climb stairs.
  • Do not use your walker on an escalator.

General Safety Tips
  • Remove small area rugs, electrical cords, spilled liquids or other items that may cause you to slip.
  • In the bathroom, install non-slip bath mats, toilet grab bars, a raised toilet seat, shower grab bars, and a shower tub seat.
  • Keep needed household items in close reach. Store less used items out of the way.
  • Use a backpack, fanny pack, apron or briefcase in order to carry items.

Torn Ligament Using Crutches

Home care for ligament sprains in the legs may include crutches. You must be able to support your entire weight on one leg in order to use crutches. Crutches allow you to walk without placing any weight on an injured or painful leg.

Proper Adjustment for Crutches

  • The top of your crutch should be 1-1.5 inches below your armpit as you stand upright and the crutch rests on the floor.
  • The hand grips should be even with your hip joint.
  • Your elbows should bend as you use the hand grips.

Non Weight Bearing Technique
  • Stand on the good leg while using the crutches for balance.
  • Hold the bad leg off the floor.
  • Begin your step as if you are going to step on the bad leg, but do not place any weight on this leg. Instead, place both crutches in front of you and place your weight on your arms.
  • Your arms are supported by the crutches as you grip the crutch handles.
  • The crutches should be placed on the floor at an angle away from the side of your body, in a shape like the upright arms of the capital letter, "A."
  • Your elbows should bend as you support your weight.
  • Gently push off with your good leg after the crutches are firmly planted on the floor. Swing your body forward between the crutches.
  • Rest the top of the crutches tightly against each side of your chest and continue to support your weight with your arms.
  • Do not rest your armpits on the tops of the crutches. This can cause nerve damage.
  • Place your good leg on the floor and allow it to completely support your weight. Swing your crutches slightly away from your body and forward. Place the crutches on the floor to prepare for the next step.
  • Focus on where you are walking -- do not look at your feet.

Partial Weight Bearing Technique
  • Stand on the good leg while using the crutches for balance.
  • Begin to step on the bad leg, but do not place your entire weight on this leg. Instead, place most of your weight on your arms.
  • Your arms are supported by the crutches as you grip the crutch handles.
  • The crutches should be placed on the floor at an angle away from the side of your body, in a shape like the upright arms of the capital letter, "A."
  • Your elbows should bend as you support your weight.
  • Gently push off with your good leg after the crutches are firmly planted on the floor. Swing your bad leg forward between the crutches.
  • Rest the top of the crutches tightly against each side of your chest. Continue to support your weight with your arms and the bad leg.
  • Do not rest your armpits on the tops of the crutches.
  • Place your good leg on the floor and allow it to completely support your weight. Swing your crutches slightly away from your body and forward. Place the crutches on the floor to prepare for the next step.
  • Focus on where you are walking -- do not look at your feet.

Climbing Stairs with Crutches
When climbing stairs, you should climb one stair at a time, completely resting for a moment on one step before moving to the next step.

Follow these steps:
  • Start by supporting your weight with your good leg and both crutches.
  • Place your weight on both of the crutches and move your good leg up to the next step.
  • Transfer all of your weight to the good leg.
  • Lift the bad leg and the crutches onto the same step where you placed the good leg.
  • Support and stabilize yourself with both crutches and the good leg before moving to the next step.

Going down Stairs on Crutches
When going down stairs, you should go down one stair at a time. Stop and rest for a moment on one step before moving to the next step.

Follow these steps:
  • Start by supporting your weight with your good leg and both crutches.
  • Place your weight on the good leg and place both of the crutches onto the next lower step.
  • Transfer all of your weight to both crutches.
  • Place the good leg onto the same step where you placed the crutches.
  • Support and stabilize yourself with both crutches and the good leg before moving to the next step.

Torn Ligament Warning Signs

Notify your doctor if you have a ligament sprain and any of the following:

Continue to Torn Ligament Underlying Cause

Last Updated: Mar 10, 2011 References
Authors: Stephen J. Schueler, MD; John H. Beckett, MD; D. Scott Gettings, MD
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