ACL Injury

The most common cause of ACL rupture is a traumatic force being applied to the knee in a twisting moment.

The Anterior Cruciate Ligament (ACL) is the main support structure of the knee that prevents rotation of the Femur (thigh bone) on the Tibia (shin bone). The ACL also prevents the Tibia from translating forward on the Femur. This ligament is injured more than we would like in sports. Professional and nonprofessional athletes they are all victims of torn ACL. The most common cause of ACL rupture is a traumatic force being applied to the knee in a twisting moment. Treatment of an ACL injury begins with proper recognition of the injury. There are still a few times when an ACL tear is misdiagnosed. The diagnosis can be made with a combination of a proper physical examination by a physician.

ACL Injury Treatment

Over the past 15 years the medical profession’s ability to adequately repair a torn ACL has grown tremendously. Rehabilitation after this injury has also advanced significantly. More than 15 years ago, after surgical repair of the ACL the patient was casted for six weeks to 8 weeks while today, the knee is moved even before the patient wakes up from the anesthetic. Most orthopedic surgeons will have the patient wait two to four weeks before repairing the ACL after the original injury. This is done to reduce the swelling, return normal quad function and to decrease pain. If the surgery is performed immediately after the injury it will make the initial recovery very difficult.

If an unstable knee is not repaired, the constant rotation will cause other structures to be damaged. The most common associated injury is a meniscus tear. The meniscus is located between the Tibia and Femur that acts as a shock absorber. When the meniscus is torn, it causes pain, popping and swelling. Another associated injury with a chronically unstable knee is degenerative changes to the joint surfaces, or arthritis. The constant rotation of the femur begins to “wear away” the joint surfaces. Once the diagnosis of ruptured ACL is made, management can be divided into conservative and surgical.

 3 Factors in ACL Injury Treatment:

  • -Age
  • -Functional disability
  • -Functional requirements.

Quads Are Key In ACL Injury Treatment:

It is very important to use the quad muscles (thighs). When the knee is injured they will shut down and not work. In order to function in life these muscles must be able to work properly. Performing quad tightening exercises, straight leg raises and hamstring curls will help to limit the amount of muscle atrophy that occurs due to the injury.