A torn ligament in the back can be a minor or very serious soft tissue injury, depending on the location and the extent of damage involved. Ligaments attach bones to one another and are numerous throughout the back and spine. A ligament tear will often occur when bones are subjected to tremendous force and the result injures the connective tissue, since the bone is more impervious to trauma.
Minor ligamentous tears are relatively common and may occur from an accident, sports injury or fitness activity, such as weight lifting. These minor traumas do not typically involve the ligament detaching and should heal fine without much worry or attention.
Ligament injuries may heal on their own, but some may require professional care, surgical repair and/or rehabilitation. However, when a ligament become detached from its respective bone connections, the story changes considerably. These cases almost always require significant care and possibly even invasive treatment to correct.
Let's take a closer look at torn soft tissues in the dorsal anatomy and their possible consequences.
Torn ligaments describe a condition in which the connective tissue between 2 or more bones rips. These tears can be small and insignificant or may be catastrophic. Small rips and tears are the typical result of minor back injuries and muscular overexertion. These are not serious concerns and should heal within a few days. Significant tears may take longer to heal and symptoms may persist, especially on movement, for many weeks. When the ligament completely tears away from the bone it is assigned to, there can be serious consequences.
In some cases, conservative care will promote healing, but in other cases, back surgery may be required to re-attach the ligament to its proper place and allow the damage to heal naturally. In all cases, physical therapy is helpful in rehabilitating damage to soft tissues and rebuilding the strength needed to prevent re-injury.
Physical therapists are experts in helping to diagnose and rehabilitate ligament injuries. The goal of physical therapy for back pain is to rebuild strength and flexibility in the injured area, as well as prevent future injuries from recurring at the location.
In some instances, scar tissue may form, enacting the ideal circumstances for ongoing susceptibility to further injury or even causing chronic back pain in rare scenarios.
Many patients who are experienced with fitness training choose to use back exercises and stretches to rehabilitate their own injuries, which is fine, as long as they are truly knowledgeable about the proper techniques to utilize. I have performed my own physical therapy for a great number of anatomical injuries over the years and am proud of my results. For other patients, professional back pain rehabilitation may be needed.
Ligament tears are sometimes misdiagnosed, as are many back pain conditions. Sometimes, the damage occurs in the actual muscles surrounding the area, while occasionally, there is no actual injury at all. In these cases, oxygen deprivation may be the real culprit for persistent symptoms.
In rare cases, damage to a ligament will show up on testing, but is coincidental to the symptomatic expression. In these cases, the pain may well be psychosomatic in origin and might be very difficult to treat using any type of medical care. This is extremely common in patients diagnosed with coincidental rotator cuff tears in the shoulder.
Remember, mindbody pain syndromes will often target an area with a known anatomical abnormality, such as the site of a previous injury. This lends credibility to the pain as being seemingly structurally-enacted, which is exactly the purpose of the syndrome to begin with. In most cases, symptomatic ligament tears can be properly identified as the source of pain and effectively treated using a combination of therapy modalities.