THE CAUSES OF AN ACL INJURY WITHIN THE KNEE AND HOW TO AVOID IT
What is an ACL and what does it do?
ACL is an abbreviation for the Anterior Cruciate Ligament. This ligament helps stabilize the knee joint, it connects to the femur (thigh bone) and tibia (shin bone). It runs diagonally in the middle of the knee and prevents the tibia from sliding out in the front of the femur and provides rotational stability of the knee.
What type of movements result in an ACL injury?
• Changing direction rapidly
• Stopping suddenly
• Slowing down while running
• Landing from a jump incorrectly
• Direct contact or collision, such as a football tackle
Several studies have shown that female athletes are more susceptible to ACL injuries than male athletes. It has been proposed that this could be due to the physical conditioning, muscular strength and neuromuscular control. Other suggested causes include different structures of the pelvis, and lower extremity alignment, increased laxity in ligaments and the effect of estrogen levels on ligament properties.
Signs and Symptoms of an ACL injury
• Hear a popping sound at the time of the injury
• Knee giving way underneath you
• Pain with swelling within 24 hours
• Loss of range of motion
• Tenderness along the joint line
• Discomfort while walking
Severity of an ACL injury
Grade 1: Mild damage, slightly stretched but no tear present. There is minimal laxity with minor pain and swelling
Grade 2: Partial tear of the ACL ligament and stretched. There is noticeable laxity with moderate pain, swelling and bruising
Grade 3: There is a complete tear of the ACL ligament with severe pain, swelling and bruising with complete laxity. Surgery is usually required to reattach the ligament
How to reduce the risk of an ACL injury?
• Train and condition the stabilizers of the knee
• Practice proper landing techniques after jumps
• When you pivot, crouch and bend at the knees and hips. This reduces stress on the ACL
• Strengthen your hamstrings and Quadriceps muscles
What can Biokinetics do to assist with an ACL injury?
Despite the severity of the ACL tear, rehabilitation is still a vital part of recovering from the injury. An individualized rehabilitation program will be designed to obtain full function of the knee as well as strengthen the muscles around the knee for support.
Constantly following your rehabilitation will ensure that you return to sport, able to perform normal daily activities as well as prevent the possibility of re-injury. To minimalize the risk of re-injury and ensure correct strengthening, it is important to perform the exercises using the correct technique and form.
It is therefore advisable to begin with a suitable rehabilitation adapted for your needs with a trained and well recognized health care professional.