Everything you need to know about ACL injury, its diagnosis and treatment
An ACL or Anterior Cruciate Ligament injury occurs due to activities that involve sudden and jerky movements in the knees. These injuries are highly common among teenagers that are into high-intensity sports activities. Female athletes are three times more susceptible to this injury than male athletes due to factors like genetics, strength, and anatomy. This is why it is important to study the causes, symptoms and ACL tear treatment before it leads to something severe and possibly life-long.
What Is ACL?
The anterior cruciate ligament is one of the key ligaments that help connect your thighbone and your shinbone at the knee. It is one of the four crucial knee ligaments that stabilise the knee when it rotates. When this ligament is overstretched, it can lead to a tear and eventually, an injury.
Also, Read: Things To Know About ACL Injury
Causes of ACL Injury
Some major causes of ACL injury can include sudden knee movements that cause a ligament tear. Some of these movements include:
- A sudden change of direction while running
- Landing in an uncomfortable or wrong way on your knees after jumping, leading to the twisting of the knee or the knee bending backwards
- A direct injury to the knee due to a collision or hitting of an object
- Overstretching the knee joint
- Movement of knee away from the leg due to a very harsh injury
- Landing on one leg after jumping, like in games such as volleyball or basketball
- Loosening of the ligament due to repeated stretching and stress
Symptoms of ACL injury
Some major symptoms of an ACL injury include:
- Hearing of a popping sound in the knees
- The inability of the knees to take heavyweights
- Pain and swelling in the knees
- Feelings of grinding in your kneecaps
- Shooting pain in your knees accompanied by the inability to carry out tasks
- A loss in the mobility of the knees
Risk Factors for ACL injury
The people who fall under any of the following categories are at high risk for ACL and should look at possible knee ligament tear treatments and prevention for the same.
1. Previous History of ACL Injuries
The repeated occurrence of ACL is 15% higher than the development of a new case in a normal knee. The first year after the first ACL injury is the most crucial and has the highest chance of re-occurrence. If you are someone who has previously contracted this injury, you should consider proper ligament tear treatment to prevent re-occurrence.
As mentioned above, due to factors like strength, mobility, genetics, and muscle conditioning, female athletes are more vulnerable to this injury than their male counterparts. Research on rats suggests that a lack of testosterone in women may explain their increased susceptibility to ACL tears.
3. Sports activities
People that play sports are also vulnerable to ACL injuries. Some of these sports activities include volleyball, basketball, football, lacrosse, skiing, and tennis. These activities involve sudden, jerky knee movements and can increase the chances of ligament tears.
4. Age and lifestyle
Other factors such as age and lifestyle matter too when it comes to being a high-risk patient for ACL injuries. People with a more active lifestyle tend to develop this injury between 15-45 years of age and also due to participation in different sports activities.
How can an ACL injury be diagnosed?
If you are displaying any of the above symptoms of ACL, it is necessary to consult your doctor or a medical professional. After doing so, the doctor will check the range of motion of your knee. Depending on their observation, they could either get an X-ray done or perform an MRI if nothing stands out.
The physical exam includes checking for any swelling or pain points. There is another way of diagnosis called Lachman’s sign test. In this test, the patient is asked to lie on their back. The examiner then holds the leg and supports the thigh and calf. The knee is bent to an angle of 30 degrees, and the calf is pulled in a forward, upward motion. This test is performed on both knees, and if the affected knee shows a greater range of motion than the other knee, the ACL has probably been torn.
ACL injury treatment
There are many anterior cruciate ligament tear treatments available, including surgical and non-surgical options. They are:
- Wearing a knee brace can help restrict large and rapid movements of the knee and result in a progressive ligament injury treatment.
- Taking non-steroidal and anti-inflammatory drugs like Ibuprofen (Advil) or Naproxen for your torn ligament in leg treatment
- Try going to a physiotherapist for treatment wherein they will help you in your knee ligament injury treatment with the help of exercises. Physical therapy is recommended for people with less activity, and the main aim is to restore strength while letting the ligament heal naturally.
If you seek ACL tear treatment without surgery, you can try these options before opting for surgery. If after examination, your doctor concludes that surgery is the only way to go, the following is some information on the same.
A doctor determines whether or not you require surgery for treatment for knee ligament damage based on three prime factors:
- Level of everyday activity
- Medical history
Only after considering these can the doctor decide if surgery is the best option for you.
It is also important to have an informed discussion with your doctor or surgeon before you go into surgery. Educate yourself about the various post-surgery treatments and any long-term risks.
The ligament treatment is done by reconstructing the ligament with the help of grafts. These can be developed surgically or obtained from a donor. The latter is highly preferred among doctors and surgeons. These grafts act as a scaffold for your ligament tissues to grow on.
Synthetic grafts are also available in various materials. Check with your doctor and select one that is best for you since all materials have their advantages.
A timely diagnosis of ACL is exceptionally crucial and can benefit you in the long term if you are an athlete or heavily involved in sports activities. ACL is curable and can be treated with proper treatment while also being calm and patient. Be in touch with your doctors and other medical specialists to know better about your condition and prevent it in the future.