The ACL (Anterior Cruciate Ligament) is one of the key ligaments that stabilize the knee joint. It connects the thighbone to the tibia, also known as the shinbone. Females are usually more prone to ACL injuries because they have less muscle mass, but perform the same activities as males especially in sports. ACL injuries usually occur when the knee is hyper-extended.
ACL Injuries are broken down into three different types.
- Grade One Sprain– There is mild damage to the ligament. The ligament usually has a slight stretch, but it can still keep your knee joint stable.
- Grade Two Sprain- This occurs when the ligament is stretched to the point that the joint becomes lose.
- Grade Three Sprain- This is usually referred to as a complete tear of the ligament. The ligament is split in two pieces and the knee joint is unstable.
Causes of ACL Injuries
- Most common causes of ACL injuries are hyperextension with a twist, which usually occurs during pivoting or cutting in sports. The following situations often precede an ACL injury:
- A sudden slow down and change of direction
- An awkward landing following a jump
- Sudden stop
- A direct blow to the knee
Sports Activities that Usually Cause an ACL Injuries
Note: The use of cleats, in general, can increase the risk of an ACL injury.
Signs and Symptoms of an ACL Injury
- Loud popping sound as the ligament tears.
- Walking becomes difficult
- Knee is unstable
- Difficult to fully extend or straighten the knee
- Severe pain
Injured ACL Treatment
- You should always consult a physician to identify the level or severity of the injury.
- If a Grade One or Two, place an Artex SafeTherapy Knee Wrap around the injured area to promote healing.
- Crutches may be needed to keep weight off the injured knee
- Anti-inflammatory drugs like ibuprofen and aspirin can help reduce swelling
- A knee brace may be needed to help stabilize the knee.
- Surgery may be needed it is a complete tear. The surgery usually consists of removing the damaged ACL and replacing it with new tissue to help a new ligament grow in its place.
- Physical Therapy a couple of times per week, so you can perform exercises which will strengthen the muscles around the knee
- Normal sports and other activities can be resumed after a physician designated period of time, normally around 12 months after surgery and rehab.