What is it?
The Anterior Cruciate Ligament (ACL) is one of the main ligaments of your knee. The ACL is located between the femur (thigh bone) and the tibia (the main shin bone). The main function of the ACL is to provide stability by preventing twisting of the knee and stopping the tibia moving forward in relation to the femur.
The ACL is most commonly injured when the knee experiences an inward rotation or twist when the foot is on the ground and knee is bent. This often occurs when changing direction e.g. when running in sports like football and soccer.
How is it diagnosed?
There are a number of specific tests your physio will perform to test the integrity of your ACL but gaining information about what exactly happened during the injury is often just as important. Quite often an ACL injury is associated with feeling and/or hearing a ‘pop’, following by immediate pain, swelling, and a feeling of instability when weight bearing.
When an ACL injury is suspected a scan such as an MRI is often used to confirm the diagnosis and the extent of an injury.
How is it treated?
Immediate treatment often involves ice, pain killers, and elevation to control the immediate swelling and pain. Crutches may be needed to assist with walking because of pain and instability.
Once a diagnosis of an ACL injury has been confirmed, the most common treatment involves a surgical reconstruction of the ligament. This is often done using part of your hamstring tendon to replace the torn ACL.
Physiotherapy can play a role before and after surgery. Before surgery physio can be used to prepare your knee in the best possible way by maximising the strength and range of movement you have. At Ergoworks we also take you through some of the exercises you should complete in the first few days after surgery and discuss some of the outcomes you could expect. After surgery the theme of physio is the same – increase the strength, range of movement, control, and function of your knee.
How long does it take to get better?
When you return to sport or activity will depend on the type of activity you hope to get back to and the recommendations and instructions from the surgeon. In general, return to sport will often occur around 9-12 months after surgery.
If you think you may have injured your ACL or you have a confirmed diagnosis, come and see us at the clinic and we’ll help you get back on track!