ACL stands for Anterior Cruciate Ligament and is one of four ligaments found within the knee joint. An ACL injury is one of the most common injuries sustained through sports such as tennis, skiing and football. This is due to the sudden movement change, change in movements causing the knee joint to “jolt” about.
The ACL is a strong band that connects your shinbone to your thighbone and is responsible for your knee’s back and forth motion. You’ll find the ACL inside the joint along with three other ligaments called –
- Posterior Cruciate Ligament – PCL
- Medial Collateral Ligament – MCL
- Lateral Collateral Ligament – LCL
These ligaments work together to protect the joint and flex and stabilise your position as you move around.
What causes an ACL injury?
As mentioned above ACL injuries normally are seen in athletes, such as football players. However, we also see this type of injury due to trauma. For example, simply falling up a staircase or missing the run of a ladder can cause a strain or tear of the ligament.
How do I know if I have an ACL injury?
Often described as a “popping sensation” ACL injuries can visually present themselves as swelling of the knee or even bruising, depending on how the injury occurred.
It will be difficult to bear weight on an ACL injury and often feel unstable, especially in cases where has been a tear of the ligament.
Symptoms include –
- Popping sensation, in most cases an audible “pop” can be heard
- Loss of movement or range of movement
- A feel unstable “weak” feeling when trying to bear weight
If your injury is minor you may only experience a slight weakness and pain while walking.
How do I know if I have torn my ACL?
If you have torn the ligament symptoms can be almost instant, including swelling. This is due to the vessels that feed the ligament flooding the area with blood known as Hemarthrosis.
Further tests would have to be performed to establish the severity of the injury. These include –
- The Lachman test
- The pivot shift manoeuvre
- Drawer test
A healthcare professional will conduct these tests and establish a treatment plan tailored to your needs. You must always seek advice from a healthcare provider if you have trouble standing. The swelling has not subsided after 48 hours, or you have a deformity.
Rehab for ACL injuries
Recovery time for an ACL injury is usually between 6-9 months. This is dependant on the severity of the injury and how you plan your recovery.
Strained ACL injuries may be managed at home; however, you will need an assessment to determine your treatment plan. Self-diagnosis if not recommended and may result in further damage, which may require surgery.
Physical therapy is a key ingredient to aid and speed up your recovery time.
If you wish to discuss a knee injury or treatment plan, get in touch today.