This ligament is usually injured in sports involving cutting, quick deceleration, jumping, or landing movements. If the ACL is torn fully, it can mean reconstructive surgery which can be a lengthy process of recovery, but help you return to a more functional knee.
Common signs and symptoms of an ACL injury may include:
- A loud “pop” sensation in the knee
- Feelings of instability in the knee with weight-bearing
- Immediate swelling in the knee
- Severe pain
An MRI will conclusively show whether you have sustained an ACL injury.
Immediate treatment following an ACL injury primarily involves protecting the knee from further injury, rest, ice, compression, and elevation (P.R.I.C.E). Physiotherapy can to help regain your range of motion (ROM) and strength back. Physiotherapy may be enough for people who are relatively inactive, and don’t perform sports that require pivoting and quick change in directions.
Surgery may be recommended if:
- You’re an athlete and want to continue in your sport, especially if the sport involves jumping, cutting or pivoting
- More than one ligament or the meniscus in your knee is also injured
- The injury is causing your knee to buckle during everyday activities
During ACL reconstruction, the surgeon will typically remove the torn ligament and replaces it with a “graft” to make your new ligament. Common graft sources include one of your hamstring tendons or a tendon from the front of your knee called the quad/patellar tendon or tissue from a cadaver.
After surgery you will do physiotherapy again to help regain your knee range of motion, strength, and help you return to your activities. Return to pre-injury competition safely typically takes between 9-12 months.
Waiting longer than 9 months after your surgery, passing physiotherapy hop and strength tests, and having similar sized thigh muscles all reduce the likelihood of re-injuring your ACL after returning to sport.
Pre-op physiotherapy is also important to develop strength and ROM prior to surgery to improve the likelihood of success and accelerate your recovery.
ACL prevention exercise programs have been shown in recent research to reduce ACL injuries in a given population by as much as 50% and have been shown to reduce non-contact ACL injuries in females by as much as 67%.
Here at Body Works, we can help give you exercises to reduce your risk of having an ACL injury, improve your ROM and strength prior to surgery, or help you recover from an existing ACL injury or surgery.