All You Need to Know About Capsule Rupture

Not only the muscles, ligaments and tendons are stressed to a greater or lesser extent during sport, but also the joints. Each joint is surrounded by a capsule that can be injured by incorrect movement. One of these forms of injury is the capsule tear or the joint capsule tear.

What is a capsule rupture?

A doctor should always be consulted if a capsule rupture is suspected. As a rule, this will immobilize the joint after a corresponding diagnosis, since moving too early can lead to a permanent restriction of the range of motion. See AbbreviationFinder for abbreviations related to Capsule Rupture.

Capsule tears are tears in the joint capsule that occur as a result of a dislocation or sprain, which often occur in combination with ligament injuries. Capsule tears often occur in fingers and toes as well as in the ankle or knee.

Typical symptoms of a capsule rupture are severe pain, bruising and clearly visible swelling of the affected joint.

The joint capsule is a connective tissue covering that encloses the joint cavity filled with synovial fluid. Together with the ligaments, it ensures the stability of the joint.

The outer capsule protects the inner capsule layer, which ensures that the joint can move smoothly by producing synovial fluid.


Does it come, e.g. When, for example, exercising, an abrupt, extreme movement that overstretches the joint or forces it in a direction outside of the normal range of motion, in many cases not only the ligaments are injured, but the capsule is damaged as well.

Such a capsule tear can be caused by a fall, twisting or a badly hit ball. External influences such as hits or kicks can also lead to a capsule rupture.

Since the inner ligament in the knee has grown together with the joint capsule, a tear in the inner ligament can also be the cause of a capsule tear.

Symptoms, Ailments & Signs

The exact symptoms and symptoms of a capsule rupture depend on where in the body the injury occurs. In general, a capsule rupture is expressed at the moment of injury by a strong, usually stabbing pain in the affected part of the body. This can then no longer be moved without pain and swells.

Bruising can occur when smaller blood vessels are injured. A larger bruise may form in the area of ​​the capsule tear, which will only subside slowly. This often limits the mobility of the joint and causes further pain. Occasionally, a capsule rupture can be recognized by the typical cracking of the joint. The symptoms of a capsule rupture usually develop gradually.

After the acute pain response, the affected body part swells very slowly, often over days or weeks, and the above signs of injury appear. With appropriate treatment, the joint will heal within a few weeks. The symptoms subside slowly, with the pain turning into a dull throbbing over time and often persisting for a long time. If a capsule rupture is not treated comprehensively, chronic joint, muscle and nerve damage can occur.

Diagnosis & History

At the moment of the injury, a stabbing, later pulsating pain indicates a capsule rupture. Severe swelling of the joint is another characteristic symptom. The swelling is caused by synovial fluid leaking from the injured capsule.

A capsule rupture is often accompanied by a bruise, which forms as a result of an injury to smaller vessels and can lead to restricted mobility of the joint. In some cases, when moving a joint affected by a capsular tear, there is a cracking sound.

A capsule tear is often not easy to diagnose, since overstretching the joint can also lead to other injuries such as ligament strain or ligament tears. An X-ray often cannot determine exactly whether the ligaments or the capsule are injured.

However, a ligament injury can be largely ruled out by means of an ultrasound examination. If the type of injury is still not clear after this examination, magnetic resonance therapy can help to clarify the situation.


As a rule, a capsule rupture causes relatively severe and, above all, stabbing pain. These are particularly noticeable in the patient’s joints and can also spread to other regions of the body, causing pain and discomfort there as well. The patient’s quality of life is significantly reduced by a capsule rupture and bruising or swelling occurs.

There are also significant restrictions on movement, so that ordinary running or walking is no longer possible. The capsule rupture can also prevent you from working or playing a sport. If the joint continues to be moved, there is usually a cracking sound. A torn ligament can also occur. A capsule rupture must be treated by a doctor in any case, since it will not heal on its own.

With the help of various therapies and painkillers, the symptoms can be limited and reduced. Furthermore, the patient is dependent on bed rest and must avoid various movements. A capsule tear can also lead to arthrosis in the joint. The life expectancy is not limited by the capsule rupture.

When should you go to the doctor?

If you experience sharp pain near a joint on your body during sudden extreme movement, you should see a doctor. If there is a short, strong sensation of pain, especially during sporting activities, a fall or an accident, this is an indication of damage to the organism. If the affected person later experiences a pulsating sensation in the affected area, he should consult a doctor.

If there is a sudden drop in performance, restricted mobility or discoloration of the skin, medical care is required. In addition to the capsule rupture, a bruise often develops due to damage to the surrounding vessels. The existing forces dwindle and touches are perceived as unpleasant. A few minutes after the incident, the skin begins to experience sensory disturbances.

To prevent the symptoms from spreading further, see a doctor immediately. Severe swelling sets in shortly after the pain is felt. In these cases, it is helpful to cool the injured area as quickly as possible. Nevertheless, in the event of a capsule rupture, the rule of thumb is that the sooner a doctor is consulted, the more optimal the future course of the disease will be. In order to avoid further damage, the injured region must be protected immediately after the damage.

Treatment & Therapy

A capsule rupture is initially treated according to the PECH rule: In the coming days and weeks, the affected joint should be largely spared. Cooling relieves the pain of acute injuries and prevents the affected joint from swelling too much.

A compression bandage can also counteract excessive swelling of the joint. The affected part of the body should be elevated as often as possible to avoid excessive blood flow. Painkillers help against the severe pain of a capsule rupture. However, blood-thinning agents should be avoided as they increase blood flow to the tissue.

A doctor should always be consulted if a capsule rupture is suspected. As a rule, this will immobilize the joint after a corresponding diagnosis, since moving too early can lead to a permanent restriction of the range of motion. Specific range of motion training under the guidance of a physical therapist may also be used to help the bruise break down more quickly.

It usually takes at least six weeks for a ruptured capsule to heal. Cooling and decongestants can have a positive effect on the healing process. However, it can happen that the mobility of the joint remains restricted even after a capsule tear has healed. The capsule can remain thickened, especially in the fingers. A capsule rupture can also lead to joint arthrosis in the long term.

Outlook & Forecast

The prognosis for a capsule rupture is favorable. If the affected person acts early and seeks medical care, full recovery is achieved within a few weeks. The affected physical region must be immobilized immediately and should be sufficiently cooled.

Severe lifestyle restrictions are to be expected during the treatment process. Sporting and professional activities cannot be carried out as usual. In addition, various activities in everyday life cannot be carried out without symptoms. This can lead to disturbances in coping with everyday life or psychological stress. If the person concerned adheres to the doctor’s instructions, freedom from symptoms is documented in most patients after about six weeks. Consequences are not to be expected.

If there is no medical treatment, the capsule tear also heals. On this way, however, one has to reckon with severe pain and thus with an additional impairment of the state of health. Since the affected physical region is automatically moved on without being shut down, this makes the healing process immensely more difficult. There are delays in the recovery process and the likelihood of complications occurring increases.

In the course of life, a capsule rupture can occur again at any time. The prognosis remains favorable with a new diagnosis if medical and medical care takes place.


The elasticity of tendons, ligaments and capsules decreases from around the age of 30. Therefore, they are particularly prone to cracking. To prevent a capsule rupture, a thorough warm-up before physical activity is recommended. Special stretching exercises can help with this.

You can do that yourself

Acutely, a capsule rupture is treated using the so-called LUCK rule: break from training, ice and compresses against pain and swelling, lying up to regulate blood circulation in the affected joint. What measures patients can take after the initial treatment in the event of a capsule rupture depends on the doctor’s diagnosis.

Immobilization of the joint is the best therapy for the first two to three weeks. The affected joint should then be slowly reintroduced to the usual movement sequences. In addition, targeted joint exercises are sometimes recommended. Appropriate movement training can be carried out under the guidance of a physiotherapist, which promotes the healing of a capsule tear and the reduction of hematomas. Cooling and protection support this process. In addition, the affected joint should be taped for the first few days and weeks. A suitable bandage distributes the force and thus relieves the joint.

In consultation with the doctor, various natural remedies can also be tried. Arnica, for example, helps with severe pain and swelling. Preparations with the active ingredients Bryonia and Ledum also have a pain-relieving effect and promote the healing process in the event of a capsule rupture.