ACL Injury Signs, Symptoms and Treatment
The ACL is one of four ligaments that help stabilize the knee. ACL stands for Anterior Cruciate Ligament. The ACL is the most commonly injured knee ligament. The ACL is a key stabilizer of the knee. It guides the Tibia (shin bone) through a normal and stable range of motions. The ACL is a broad thick cord the size of your index finger with longer collagen strands woven together in a way that allows it to withstand up to 500 lbs of pressure.
- The ACL injuries most commonly occur during sports that involve sudden stops, jumping or a change of direction. Basketball, Soccer, Football, Tennis, and Volleyball are a few sports where this injury commonly occurs.
- An ACL tear is the most-often injured ligament in the knee.
- Over two hundred thousand ACL injuries occur each year and one hundred thousand ACL reconstructions are performed each year.
Causes of ACL Injury
- Approximately seventy percent of all ACL injuries occur through non-contact mechanisms. Thirty percent occur from a direct hit with another player or object.
- Females are more prone to ACL injuries.
- ACL injuries usually occur during fitness activities that put stress on the knee like:
- Cutting, slowing and change of direction
- Landing awkwardly from a jump
- Sudden stop
- Direct blow to the knee
- Once you suffer an ACL tear, the risk of a re-tear on the previously repaired ACL is approximately fifteen percent higher
ACL Tear Symptoms
- Popping sound at the time of injury
- Knee swelling within six hours of injury
- Pain, especially when you are trying to put weight on injured leg
- Knee giving out and unstable
Immediate Treatment Following the Occurrence of an ACL Injury
- Reduce pain and swelling using the RICE method
- Rest. Stop all activities using the injured knee.
- Ice. Place ice or a Super Cool Therapeutic Knee Wrap on the injured knee
- Compression. Wrap the knee or use a Super Cool Therapeutic Knee Wrap which provides both cooling and compression to injured area.
- Elevate. Keep the injured leg above heart level.
Tests for ACL Conducted by a Knowledgeable Physician
- Lachman Test – This test is performed to evaluate abnormal forward movement of the Tibia. The knee is held slightly bent (20-30 degrees) and the femur is stabilized in one hand while shifting the tibia in the other hand. This allows your doctor to feel for an ACL tear
- Pivot Shift – This test is performed in an operating room with the patient under anesthesia. This tests for an abnormal motion of the knee joint when an ACL tear is present.
- Drawer Test – This test is performed with the knee at a 90-degree angle. Tibia is shifted forward and back to assess for an intact ACL by pulling forward and an intact PCL (Posterior Cruciate Ligament) pushing back.
Treatment for ACL Tear
- If surgery is required, the ligament is not repaired. Instead, it is reconstructed. This is usually done with a minimally invasive surgery using an arthroscope.
- Usually, a new ligament is taken from the Patellar Tendon (the tendon that connects the quadriceps muscle to the Tibia). It could also come from the hamstring tendon from the back of the knee or it could come from a donor.
- Surgery for ACL tears is usually delayed 3-4 weeks after injury. This allows swelling and bleeding to decrease. The goals for an ACL surgery include:
- Restore as much stability as possible to knee
- Restore the same level of function as existed pre-injury
- Limit the loss of function to the knee
- Prevent injury to other parts of the knee
After you complete the surgery, you will be given a rehab schedule. Most rehab programs will focus on regaining range of motion and gradually bearing weight on the knee. The main goal of the rehab process is to gain full flexion and extension of the knee joint then build balance and strength. As you progress through the rehab program, using a product such as the Super Cool Therapeutic Knee Wrap will help reduce any pain you may experience.