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ACL or anterior cruciate ligament is the consequence of knee injury, common in people who work in physical jobs and athletes who play soccer, volleyball, football and basketball. The treatment for ACL injury by Orthopedic Surgeonoffers both surgical and nonsurgical measures, for recovery within six to nine months. Read on to know more about ACL injury and how to deal with it:
What is ACL?
The knee is hinge-type joint, stabilized with the help of ligaments. The Anterior Cruciate Ligament (ACL) and the Posterior Cruciate Ligament (PCL) are located in the center of the knee and provide support to the knee joint during pivot and twist motions.
Most tears of ACL are from non-contact injuries. ACL is vulnerable to injury during sudden twisting and pivoting motions, particularly while playing sports. In fact, ACL tears are the commonest sports injury. Other ways ACL can tear, include:
- Sudden stop while running
- Change in direction while running
- Slowing down suddenly when running
- Awkward landing from a jump
- Collision with someone like football tackle
In most cases, ACL tears are accompanied by other injuries and cartilage damage. In 70 percent of people with ACL tears, there is also injury to the menisci—the cushions in the knee protecting the cartilage.
What happens when there is an ACL tear?
When ACL tears occur in adults, decision regarding the tears need to be made including: whether to let the tear be, to replace the ligament or to repair it. Many factors affect this decision, including patient education and the needs of the future.
Commonly, in children, ACL tears are not operated upon, until their bones mature. This is because reconstruction of ACL risks injuring the growth plate which can lead to delayed bone development and problems in bone growth. Therefore, surgeons choose not to operate ACL tears, or use special techniques to avoid growth plate damage.
What are the signs and symptoms of ACL tears?
When there is an ACL tear, a popping sound is often heard, and the feeling of ‘giving out’ of knee is felt. Additional symptoms include:
- Pain and swelling. The latter may start immediately or in a couple of hours. This swelling lasts for a period of two to four weeks.
- Discomfort in walking
- Loss of range of movements in the knee.
How are ACL injuries diagnosed?
The provisional diagnosis of ACL injury is based on the trauma history of the patient. The healthcare provider will ask you questions about the injury such as: how the knee was injury, time of injury, onset of swelling, the part of the knee that hurts the most, any previous ACL tears and if you heard any sound when the injury occurred.
Thereafter, the healthcare provider confirms this diagnosisthrough investigations like x-ray and MRI. An x-ray is done to ensure there are no broken bones or hairline fractures.
MRIs are the gold standard investigation to view the detailed soft tissue injury of the knee. if ligaments are torn, they will show up clearly on the MRI.
Who is at risk of ACL tears?
Athletes–both men and women—are at risk of ACL tears. Women tend to be at higher risk due to physical difference in landing, and maneuvering. Fatigue is another hazardous factor. Tired athletes tend to use poor mechanics and are more vulnerable to injury.
What are the management options?
Immediately after the injury RICE therapy is recommended, which means, Rest, Ice, Compression and Elevation.
Non-surgical treatment options include: physical therapy and bracing.
Bracing: involves putting a brace around the knee to keep it stable, along with crutches. Crutches are recommended to avoid putting weight on the injured knee.
Physical therapy: will help in knee functions and strengthen the muscles around it.
Surgery: is done to reconstruct a torn ACL through a tendon graft.
The type of management that works best for the patient is advised by the healthcare expert like Best Orthopedic Surgeon in Multan.