Anterior Cruciate Ligament (ACL) injuries are common among people engaged in sports, especially team games that are high-impact sporting events. The ACL is one among four of the major ligaments that stabilizes the knee joint. The ACL prevents the sliding of tibia from beneath the femur bone and also plays a part in rotation.
Probable reasons for an ACL injury
An ACL injury occurs due to the convoluting force applied on the knee when an athlete suddenly turns while playing a game, keeping the foot firmly on the ground. A direct impact to the knee during a football game or at the time of tackling in rugby can cause an injury to the ACL. Sudden deceleration or stopping, in case of women, incorrect landing in a jump, can also lead to ACL injuries. An ACL tear happens when the twisting force is more than what the ligament is capable of handling. However, in 70% of the cases it is a non-contact injury.
ACL injury symptoms may include an audible pop at the time of sustaining the injury, a feeling of instability initially that is later marked by swelling, extreme pain, restrictions to movement and tenderness at the joint.
Treatments that follow
An athlete who experiences an ACL injury should stop playing immediately and give RICE (Rest, Ice, Compression and Elevation) treatment to the joint. He/she should also seek medical attention at the earliest convenience. After making an assessment of the knee joint injury, the doctor may recommend an X-ray or MRI scan. If surgery is recommended, a pre-surgery rehabilitation program is carried out to strengthen the knee, reduce the swelling and achieve best results after the surgery. The doctor decides whether surgery is required or not on the basis of various factors such as the athlete’s age, involvement in sporting activities, lifestyle and degree of instability, among others.
Whereas patients who are less active may be given nonsurgical treatment, surgery may be the best option for patients involved in active sports. Arthroscopic surgery is done to carry out the reconstructive work of ACL depending on the type of tear.
Recovery and preventive measures
Athletes who undergo ACL surgeries require at least six months time to recoup completely and play in an unrestricted manner. After the surgery, athletes are rehabilitated on the basis of milestones achieved, starting with strength building and eventually progressing towards exercises that are specific to the sporting activity that the athlete is involved in. Typically, athletes are made to start bending their knees the very next day after the surgery. Most patients feel a sense of security when they wear knee braces during the rehabilitation period. They may even continue to wear braces or supports for a couple of seasons. Kneebracesforrunning are used by athletes who have sustained injuries and also by those who want to prevent ACL injuries.
Once cleared for running and jumping after the rehabilitation, many athletes hesitate because of their lack of trust in their complete recovery from the injury. Some athletes prefer to wear braces after the injury to regain confidence. No study has provided evidence that braces and supports promote post-operative healing after an ACL reconstructive surgery or prevent re-injuries to the ACL.
Studies show that females are 2 to 8 times more prone to sustain Anterior Cruciate Ligament injuries than males. According to orthopedic surgeons, the possible reasons are:
Differences in neuromuscular control and core stability between females and males
Anatomical differences in females, such as wider pelvis and angle to the legs, contribute to greater pressure being applied on the knees during exercises. Higher ligament laxity in women contributes to more loose joints. The way women use their legs in sporting activities is a matter of research now. Women tend to land differently following a jump and also the extent of use of their hamstring and quadriceps is different.
The effect of Oestrogen hormone on the ACL
A program called Sports metrics, aimed at preventing ACL injuries, is offered by professional athletic trainers. Athletes are taught to land softer by sitting back in a deep squat and use the hamstring more than the quadriceps. Proper cutting mechanics are also taught in Sports metrics. Athletes are seen to display better mechanics when they are re-tested after completing the program. This program can be taken during rehabilitation and it makes possible for you to return to your preferred game.
Author Abby Evans is a blogger for PremiereVanities.com and is an avid athlete since high school. Her realization that she is not as young as she used to be has lead her to explore various kneebraces and to study up on preventing injuries.