When ligaments are overstretched, or if their strength is overwhelmed by an excessive force, a Ligament Sprain occurs. Ligaments, like muscles, also consist of a bundle of fibers that attach one bone to another across a joint.
However, ligaments don't contract and shorten, or relax and lengthen, like muscles do. Ligaments provide stability to the joint, not movement. A ligament's job is allow a joint to move within a defined range but preventing movement beyond that range. When a ligament tears (sprains), it weakens, allowing the joint to become injured with resulting inflammation and pain as well as instability.
Ligament Sprains, like Muscle Strains, are Graded 1-4, with Grades 1-3 responding well to chiropractic treatment using ice/heat, ultrasound, electrical muscle stimulation, manipulation or mobilization and massage. These modalities and manual techniques reduce inflammation, pain and muscle spasm allowing the ligament to heal quickly.
It should be noted that ligaments do not have a direct blood supply, like a muscle does. Because of this, the healing process is slower with a Ligament Sprain versus a Muscle Strain.