A Short Guide to Anterior Cruciate Ligament (ACL) Injuries
Taking part in sporting activities is a healthy and worthwhile pastime, but there are certain injuries that can occur while playing sports. As WebMD points out, the tearing of the anterior cruciate ligament in the knee is one of the most common. This can be a painful and inconvenient injury, which many people know little about. This short guide describes the cause of ACL injuries, the symptoms, the diagnosis and how they are treated.
Causes of ACL Injuries
As MedlinePlus explains, ACL injuries are most common in sports that involve quick stops and changes in direction, such as skiing, basketball and football. They are also common in contact sports such as rugby, alongside other injuries caused by physical trauma.
Symptoms of an ACL Injury
Some people know immediately that they have an ACL injury, as they hear a popping or cracking sound from their knee while exercising. The NHS describes the other symptoms of a torn ACL, which include severe pain, swelling, a reduced range of movement in the knee and an inability to put weight on the joint.
Diagnosis of ACL Injuries
Generally, an ACL injury can be diagnosed through a simple physical exam with a doctor, who will check for swelling and tenderness as well as limited motion. If the doctor cannot determine whether you have an ACL injury, further tests can be performed in the form of MRI or ultrasound scans.
Treatment for ACL Injuries
There are several different treatments for an ACL injury, with different methods being suitable for different people. For most people, treatment consists of a course of physiotherapy, preferably with a dedicated sports physiotherapist, who can teach the patient a range of exercises to reduce pain as well as restoring a full range of motion to the knee. Practicing these exercises at home may be necessary, and some patients may need to support their knee with a brace or crutch.
While physiotherapy may be enough for some patients, some may need surgery. The Mayo Clinic describes which patients may need surgery, including those who are young, and those who want to continue playing their sport. The surgery consists of the removal of the damaged ligament, which is replaced by a new piece of tendon. This is then followed by more physiotherapy, and recovery can take as long as a year.
While an ACL injury can be incredibly painful and inconvenient, especially for dedicated sports players, there is much that can be done to ease the pain and restore motion to the knee. If you experience one of these injuries, it is important to get medical help as soon as possible in order to help you make a full recovery.