ACL is short for anterior cruciate ligament, definitely the essential ligament of the knee. Injury of ACL is the most common injury of all ligaments. Anterior cruciate ligament together with posterior cruciate ligament takes care of knee stability. Their mutual activity prevents hyper extension of the knee and consequent injury. They allow the knee to rotate up to 30 degrees. All of the previous movements are useful in jumping, pivoting and side-stepping. This ligament is susceptible to injury in sportsmen because it is commonly used in majority of movements during sports activities. The injury of ACL is accompanied by pain, and swelling of the injured area.
ACL Tear Treatment Modalities
Injury of ACL does not mean that the athlete will stop practicing sports and that his/her career is over. On contrary, thanks to numerous treatment modalities this type of injury can perfectly heal without serious complication and reduction in function of the knee. Many people can easily recognize the moment of the injury because it is accompanied by popping in the knee. The doctor will examine the patient and may only assume that ACL has been torn. Still, the definitive conformation can be achieved by MRI of the knee. This imaging method will give an excellent insight in ACL tear.
Initial Managenet of ACL Tear
This injury, as many others, causes inflammation and swelling of the knee. First aid includes application of ice or cold compresses. The following step is wrapping the knee with a tight bandage. This will additionally help in reduction of swelling. The pain is brought under control by analgesics and they are also given at once because the pain can be excruciating.
In case of partial tear patients need to undergo physical therapy. Physical therapy can help the patient to restore all the movements and stability of the injured knee and to strengthen the knee muscles. The exercises are prescribed by physiotherapist who will participate in practice and supervise the patient. Rehabilitation may last several months. Physical therapy must be strictly followed and one should not avoid exercises and start practicing sport unless s/he fully recovers.
ACL Tear Surgery
In all patients whose injury cannot heal with conservative treatment surgery is the only choice. ACL reconstruction includes grafts taken from other parts of patient's body. The surgeon uses arthroscopic method which is easy and carries fewer risks comparing to open surgery. Patients are discharged the same day after the surgery. Patient who undergoes surgery requires postoperative physical therapy.