Ligament Pain Relief

Also known as costochondritis, sprain, strain or twists in the shoulder, wrist, ankle and knee. Carpal tunnel syndrome, plantar fasciitis, epichondilitis.

Definition: Ligament pain is pain caused by an injury, inflammation, degeneration or even thickening of a ligament and may involve other tissues such as muscles, nerves, joints, and bones.

Ligament Pain Information

Overview: Ligaments are very tough fibrous tissues, known as connective tissues, composed of interconnecting bands of collagen, that connect the bones and cartilage of the body together. Essentially, ligaments serve as the “glue” that keeps the body together. Ligaments form the tough capsule around the joints. While normal ligament are very tough, they can stretch to a limited extent. Ligaments may be injured with sudden pull, such as twisting of the ankle, or knee, or hyper-extending the shoulder, resulting in varying degrees of tearing of the collagen fibers of the ligament, called a sprain or strain. In the case of minor sprains these fibers may be partially separated. In the case of severe sprains, the ligament is completely torn. Partial or complete sprains are very common in sports. In some cases of severe sprain, part of the bone that is attached to the ligament may be broken off. Sprains are the most common injury involving ligaments, and can affect anyone at any age, regardless of their physical condition. Ligaments may become inflamed with excessive activity, such as the painful foot condition known as plantar fasciitis or with certain medical conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis. Costochondritis is another example of a painful inflammatory condition of the rib cage involving an inflammation of the ligaments that hold the cartilage and ribs together.

Ligament Pain Causes

Thickened ligaments can cause spinal disease and carpal tunnel syndrome
Ligaments can thicken over time depending on the work load demanded of them. When ligaments becomes too thick, or hypertrophic, they may actually interfere with other normal tissues such as nerves. An example of nerve impingement by ligaments is in the spinal column. The ligaments that hold the spinal column together may become so thick that they compress the spinal cord or nerve roots resulting in nerve damage, pain, weakness and numbness radiating into the extremities. Ligaments of the spine may be sprained or torn resulting in acute or chronic pain of the neck (cervical spine), mid back (thoracic spine), or low back (lumbar spine). Carpal tunnel syndrome of the wrist is another example of pain caused by compression of the nerve to the hand by a hypertrophic ligament. The thickened ligament in the wrist compresses and damages the median nerve to the hand resulting in pain and numbness of the fingers. Without proper use or with poor conditioning, ligaments may actually degenerate, or atrophy, and become weak, resulting in an increased risk of sprain, tearing, or rupturing. Ligament injury is very common among middle-aged, overweight weekend warriors. Ligamentous atrophy can occur in the senior population. Proper muscle conditioning may prevent ligamentous atrophy and avoid loss of mobility in the senior years.

Ligament Pain Symptoms

Pain and tenderness in the ligament usually around the joint
Swelling and sometimes bruising around the joint
Pain that worsens with activity or movement
Decreased movement in the joint
Occasionally, pain, numbness or weakness of the arms or legs (especially in the case of spinal ligamentous abnormalities)

Ligament Pain Treatments

While most sprains heal within a few weeks, because ligaments are such tough tissues and because the blood flow to ligaments is normally limited, healing of some sprains may require weeks or even months. Some sprains may never fully recover. The victim of sprains may develop chronic pain and weakness in the joint and surrounding muscle tissues. If other nerves are involved in the original injury, the pain may never resolve. Usually, minor sprains are treated with rest, elevation of the affected extremity, local ice for 24 to 48 hours followed by heat, and anti inflammatory medications. Even these time-honored therapies may not improve the pain in many sprains. Severe sprains, especially those involving complete tears or bone fractures, may require prolonged immobilization, physical rehabilitation, or even surgery. Severe nerve compression in spinal disease or carpal tunnel syndrome may also require surgery.

The standard treatments for pain due to diseases of the ligaments are over-the-counter (OTC) and prescription narcotic and non-narcotic medication, rest, physical therapy, and steroid injections. As most patients who suffer with this type of chronic pain soon realize, these treatments are usually not sufficient and many, especially the oral medications, are associated with serious side effects such as sedation, nausea, constipation, and even addiction. Extended use of some over-the counter (OTC) medications such as ibuprofen, naproxen, and acetaminophen may even result in stomach ulcers, kidney failure, heart failure, and liver failure. Many sufferers of ligament pain often search for alternative solutions to the usual over-the-counter and prescription medications. Surgery may be required when the excruciating pain does not resolve or when severe nerve damage is evident. However, even with the best surgeon, surgery is not always successful and in many cases, the patient’s condition worsens.

Sudden severe pain, especially in the chest, arms, or head, or pain in any area of the body that does not resolve after a couple of weeks, should always be evaluated by a physician to be certain that other medical conditions, including heart disease, infections, or even cancer is not the underlying cause of pain.

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