Brief Outline of ACL Injury
The anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) is one of the four ligaments of the knee and it holds the knee together from the front. An ACL injury commonly happens in sports where there are a lot of direction changes and possible impacts. Football, basketball, and other fast moving games that require quick changes often result in ACL sprains. The most common mechanism for this injury is when the knee rotates while the foot is planted. Sharp pain at the time of the injury, accompanied by swelling in the knee joint, may be a sign of an ACL tear. This can range from minor tearing of a few fibres to a complete tear. The ACL can also be torn as the result of a hard blow to the knee; usually other ligaments and the meniscus are involved as well.
Cause of ACL injury
Forceful twisting of the knee when the foot is planted. Occasionally a forceful blow to the knee, especially if the foot is fixed as well.
Signs and symptoms of ACL injury
Pain immediately after injury that may go away later. Swelling in the knee joint. Instability in the knee, especially with the tibia.
Complications if left ACL injury unattended
If left unattended this injury may not heal properly. The instability in the joint could result in injury of other ligaments. Chronic pain and instability could lead to future limitations.
Treatment for ACL injury
ACL sprains that involve a complete tear usually require surgery, ACL Reconstruction using Arthroscopy method, to reattach the ligament. Minor sprains can often be healed completely without surgery. Return to full activity may be a prolonged process and some activities may be limited for a short period.
Rehabilitation and prevention for ACL injury
Once stability and strength return and pain subsides, activities such as stationary cycling can be gradually introduced. Range of motion and strengthening exercises are an important part of rehabilitation. Swimming and other exercises that are non-weight bearing may be used until the strength returns to normal. Strengthening the muscles of the quadriceps, hamstrings, and calves will help to protect the ACL. Proper conditioning before beginning high impact activities will also provide protection.