What is an ACL Injury?
The ACL or anterior cruciate ligament is one of four knee ligaments that are critical to the stability of your knee joint. Your ACL is tough and made to withstand huge forces. It works to control excessive knee motion by limiting joint mobility.
One of the most common problems involving the knee joint is an anterior cruciate ligament injury or ACL tear. Of the four major knee ligaments of the knee, an ACL injury or rupture is the most debilitating knee ligament injury.
What Causes an ACL Injury?
An ACL injury is usually a sports-related knee injury. About 80% of sports-related ACL tears are "non-contact" injuries. This means that the injury occurs without the contact of another player, such as a tackle in football.
Most often ACL tears occur when pivoting or landing from a jump. Your knee gives-out from under you once you tear your ACL.
Female athletes are known to have a higher risk of an ACL tear, while participating in competitive sports. This is thought to related to hormonal issues, biomechanics and strength.
What Sports have a High Incidence of ACL Injuries?
Many sports require a functioning ACL to perform common manoeuvers such as cutting, pivoting, and sudden turns.
These high demand sports include football, rugby, netball, touch, basketball, tennis, volleyball, hockey, dance, gymnastics and many more. Day to day activities can be ok without and ACL but competitive sports or even being active may prove too difficult.
Therefore, athletes are often faced with the decision to undergo surgery in order to return to their previous level of competition. ACL injuries have be known to curtail many promising sporting careers.
What are the Symptoms of an ACL Injury?
The diagnosis of an ACL tear is made by several methods. Patients who have an ACL tear commonly sustain a sports-related knee injury.
They may have felt or heard a "pop" in their knee, and the knee usually gives-out from under them. ACL tears cause significant knee swelling and pain.
How is an ACL Injury Diagnosed?
On clinical knee examination, your chiropractor or sports doctor will look for signs of ACL ligament instability. These special ACL tests place stress on the anterior cruciate ligament, and can detect an ACL tear or rupture.
An MRI may also be used to determine if you have an ACL tear. It will also look for signs of any associated injuries in the knee, such as bone bruising or meniscus damage, that regularly occur in combination with an ACL tear.
Xrays are generally of no clinical use.
How is an ACL Injury Treated?
Many patients with an ACL tear start to feel better within a few days or weeks of an ACL injury. These individuals may feel as though their knee is normal again, because their swelling has started to settle. However, this is when your problems with knee instability and giving way may start or worsen.
ACL tears do not necessarily require ACL reconstruction surgery. There are several important factors to consider before deciding to undergo ACL reconstruction surgery. A discussion is needed with your Doctor and or Chiropractor to assess your specific requirements and if surgery is necessary.
If you don't participate in a multi-directional sport that requires a patent ACL, and you don't have an unstable knee, then you may not need ACL surgery.
Chiropractic & ACL Exercises
Your best way to avoid ACL reconstructive surgery is to undertake a comprehensive ACL rehab program that involves leg strengthening, proprioception and high level balance retraining, plus sport-specific agility and functional enhancement. Your sports chiropractor is an expert in the prescription of ACL tear exercises.
Your chiropractic treatment will aim to:
- Reduce pain and inflammation.
- Normalise your joint range of motion.
- Strengthen the muscles of the lower limb and keep them in balance.
- Improve your proprioception, agility and balance
- Improve your technique and function eg walking, running, squatting, hopping and landing.
- Minimise your chance of re-injury.
How to Prevent an ACL Injury?
Preventing an ACL tear has been the focus of recent research, especially the prevention of ACL tears in female athletes. Numerous theories have been proposed to explain why people may tear their ACL, and how they can be prevented.
Current investigations have focused on neuromuscular training to prevent ACL tears. Just as we know that ACL reconstruction patients who have extensive post-operative chiropractic to rebuild their strength, proprioception and agility we do know that similar ACL exercises can help prevent an ACL tear in the first place. For more advice, please consult with your sports chiropractor.
Return to Sports with an ACL Injury
Athletes often have particular difficulty returning to sport once they have sustained an ACL injury, even if they are surgically reconstructed.
Researchers have found that your best chance of returning to your sport post-ACL tear is to have undertake both:
- ACL reconstruction surgery, and
- Intensive post-operative rehabilitation.
For more information, contact us at Irvine Chiropractic on 96305517 or email firstname.lastname@example.org to discuss.