One of the most common knee injuries you may hear about is the anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) injury or tear, especially in fast contact sports like soccer, basketball and football. However, you may not know anything about this condition, so here is some information!
What is the anterior cruciate ligament (ACL)?
The anterior cruciate ligament is one of four primary ligaments that attach the femur to the tibia and form the knee joint. It is found deep inside the knee alongside the posterior cruciate ligament and allows for the back and forth motion of the knee. In addition, it stabilizes the bones and provides stability to the knee joint during motion and single-leg balance.
What is an ACL injury?
An ACL injury involves damage to the ligament itself, typically during a sudden stop or change in directions after a fast movement. It can be associated with a popping sound, severe pain, and loss of mobility to the leg along with feelings of instability in the leg. An ACL injury can be separated into 3 grades which determine its severity: Grade 1 is mildly damaged but may still be able to stabilize the knee, Grade 2 is a partial tear and has immense pain associated with some swelling, and Grade 3 is a full tear with complete loss of mobility and instability in the knee joint.
How can we help this condition?
Ice may be used immediately to reduce inflammation and swelling to the injured ACL, but surgery must be required for a Grade 3 injury or for those who participate in athletic sports. Physical therapists can provide treatment and exercises to restore function to the knee as well as provide strengthening to the knee to prevent future injuries, regardless of whether or not surgery has occurred.