ACL or anterior cruciate ligament is one of the most important ligament of the knee and is also the most commonly injured among sportsmen. ACL injury is not the end of the road as there are many effective treatments available today.
ACL stands for anterior cruciate ligament and is centrally located in the knee joint along with the Posterior Cruciate Ligament (PCL). Both these ligaments support and stabilize the knee from front to back. These ligaments equalize the weight that is transmitted on the joint to prevent hyper-extension of the knee. ACL helps us to rotate the knee joint in 0 to 30 degree rotation, which is essential for movements like jumping, side-stepping and pivoting. The chances of ACL tear is maximum in athletes and sportsperson, as it is used to the optimum by them. This tear is caused by sudden twist of the knee while landing from a jump, pivoting or during an accident. The tear can result in immediate pain and swelling.
ACL injured patient should not be in the misconception that, he will never be able to play any sport again, because there are a lot of ACL tear treatments available today. Many people say that they know the exact moment when their ACL tore, because they felt a pop in the knee during that dreadful incident. However, one should sort proper diagnosis before confirming the tear. Magnetic Resonance Imaging can provide an accurate diagnosis, which will help in planning further treatments.
When your ACL is injured, there will be swelling and inflammation on the knee area, you must immediately rest the injured leg and apply ice. After this, wrap the knee with a tight bandage, which can control swelling. Take a pain killer, if the pain becomes unbearable. As I mentioned earlier, take an MRI scan, after which, depending on the severity of the injury, your doctors can suggest either physical rehabilitation or surgery.
Physical therapy involves strengthening and flexibility exercises, which helps to achieve normal movements of the knee. Physiotherapist will plan your workout according to your age, physical fitness and severity of the injury. To avoid any untoward incident, you must perform all exercises under his expert supervision. The rehab program can last for months, depending on the severity of the tear. Physical rehabilitation improves the stability and flexibility of the injured knee. If you successfully complete the rehab program, you can easily avoid the surgery and resume your normal activities. The key to achieve a successful return to sports is not to leave the rehab program half-way, but staying determined and completing it. After the rehab, some people can resume daily activities, but are unlikely to participate in sports. In such cases, surgery should be preferred to resume your sports career.
ACL reconstruction is the most preferred surgery for the ACL injury. ACL reconstruction does not deal with repair, but with replacing the damaged tissues of the ACL. Reconstruction surgery involves using of graft, which is usually taken from the part of your own body, like the tendons of your hamstrings or kneecaps. Usually arthroscopic method of surgery is preferred for the reconstruction surgery. The doctors are able to see inside the knee by a camera and locate the actual damaged tissues. This surgery is easier to perform, as it involves the use of incisions which has fewer risks than other open surgeries. During this surgery, small surgical holes are drilled near the knee joint through which the graft is inserted. In most cases, arthroscopic surgery are uncomplicated and the patient can be discharged 4-5 hours after the operation. This surgery can restore the stability of the knee. Sometimes, surgery can also be followed by physical rehabilitation for fast recovery.
ACL surgery is generally required by the injured athletes who require proper functioning of ACL to perform in sports like football, basketball or soccer. A successful surgery and a rehabilitation program can help an injured sports person to return to their sport after 6 to 8 months. So, it is extremely essential to complete the rehabilitation programs for restoring vigorous activities like running, jumping or playing football. The injury can be painful and frustrating for many, but one must remain patient and positive towards life.
Disclaimer: This HealthHearty article is for informative purposes only, and should not be used as a replacement for expert medical advice.