Peter Hibberd, M.D., is a doctor whose advice is based on more than 28 years of hospital outpatient and inpatient experience. He is an experienced emergency medicine physician, surgeon, and consultant. Dr. Hibberd is certified by the American Board of Emergency Medicine. He is also a fellow and active member of the American Academy of Family Physicians, an active member of the American College of Emergency Physicians, and a member and fellow of the American Academy of Emergency Medicine. Dr. Hibberd has earned numerous national and international professional certifications, memberships, and awards.
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Are There Supplements That Promote Healthy Ligaments?

Tuesday, 29 Jun 2010 09:44 AM


Question: My wife has been diagnosed as being ligamentous. Are there supplements that contribute specifically to healthy ligaments?

Dr. Hibberd's Answer:

No supplements will specifically contribute to healthy ligaments, and there are no FDA approved agents for this specific use.

A well rounded diet properly balanced with nutrient and vitamin intake is essential for efficient healing of all tissues.

Ligament injuries are injuries to the supporting structures. Ligaments hold the bones of our body in position. They do not stretch unless damaged, and if not treated properly, may heal in a stretched position allowing excess movement of the bones they attach to. This in turn can lead to joint instability, which will require surgical correction.

In many ways, torn ligaments are more problematic than broken bones. Ligament disruptions, when complete, almost always require surgical correction and repair. Delays in repairing torn ligaments are a major cause of disability and sub-standard results.

Ligament strains are usually treated conservatively. This usually means non or partial weight bearing with appropriate support or protection (sometimes a cast) until the tissue has healed enough for full function. Anti-inflammatories so often used for comfort management actually do not speed up the healing process at all!

The continued re-injury of your wife's ankle suggests she has aggravating issues (high heels or improper footwear, weight issues, prior injury with laxity due to improper healing or re-injury while healing). Also, diabetics are notorious for slow healing and impaired microcirculation; many cardiac patients have edema and vascular compromise, which slows healing significantly.

It generally takes six weeks for healing of bone and six weeks or more for ligament healing. Re-injury is a red flag to look for, precipitating circumstances, and unrecognized underlying conditions. Physical therapy is useful to stimulate the microcirculation and maintain range of motion (while in the healing stages) which often leads to a faster recovery.

I cannot comment further on your therapy without more specifics. There are ways of documenting laxity of ligaments; the most simple aside from a clinical exam would be through the use of stress X-ray.

It is important to allow ligament injuries to heal properly and protect them until remodeling of tissue has returned sufficient strength to the tissue for it to retain its function without re-injury. Complete remodeling of bone and ligaments may take months or years after the initial healing depending upon location and injury type.

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