Ligaments are the fibrous tissue that connects bones together, along with membranes holding your organs and blood vessels in place.
Damage to the ligaments around a joint, particularly the knee, are common motorcycle injuries caused by twisting impacts. Damage to the membranes is less common, usually due to the serious nature of such an injury (which can cause damage to the organs themselves and may often be fatal).
Ligaments are a bit like an elastic band. Under tension they will stretch until they can go no further, at which point they will start to break. If they are put under constant high tension, such as a dislocated joint, they can stretch permanently. This can cause ongoing instability within the joint.
Modern medicine has advanced to such a stage that even damaged ligaments can sometimes be repaired. Also some ligament damage can be sustained without the need for repair or it leading to joint instability. Most ligament damage is linked to other injuries, such as a broken leg or knee cap.
What to look for
Damaged ligaments can be difficult to identify in the early stages of an injury. Where you are immobile and suffering from pain elsewhere the injury can be overlooked until you start trying to get on your feet again. Swelling will probably appear around the joint within about two to 12 hours of the injury, but again this can often be confused with association with other injuries. You will feel pain if you try to use the joint, but even then you may be advised that the injury will recover with time.
Thorough examination of the injured joint and an MRI scan may be required to identify any damage. Another common method of diagnosis is simply to go in and have a look using keyhole surgery.
There is limited information available on this type of injury, separate from bone damage. The main guidelines do not really cover it and, particularly, damage to the fibrous membranes is pretty much unknown in the reported cases. That is why it is important to have a specialist solicitor assisting you.