ACL tears are common knee injuries in athletes who play sports like football, basketball, soccer and volleyball, as well as those with physical jobs. There are surgical and nonsurgical treatments available.
What Is an ACL Tear?
Your knees are made up of bones, ligaments, tendons, and cartilage. One of the primary ligaments (the connective tissue found at the joint) in your knee is called the anterior cruciate ligament (ACL). It connects the thigh bone (femur) to the shin bone (tibia).
Approximately 70% of ACL tears occur in sports that don’t involve contact, and 30% occur during direct contact (player-to-player, player-to-object). Women are four times more likely than men to suffer ACL tears.
Tearing your anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) is a painful injury that can make it hard to walk and put pressure on the knee. You will typically hear or feel a pop and your knee may buckle and collapse. Your knee will swell up immediately, making walking quite difficult.
Signs and Symptoms
Some of the symptoms of an ACL tear:
- A loud popping sound or sensations in the knee
- Rapid swelling of the knee
- Restricted range of motion
- Severe pain
- Inability to move or extend the leg
Causes of an ACL Tear
ACL tears are caused by high amounts of stress on the knee. Some causes of ACL tears include:
Sudden change in speed of motion: if someone suddenly changes their speed while running or walking like a sudden or sharp stop, this can put a strain on the knee and tear the ACL. This is because the ligaments have to strain to control the knee so rapidly.
Awkward landing: landing awkwardly when you jump or fall can lead to a strain on the knee and ACL. Sporting activities like high jumps or pole vaults can result in ACL injuries if athletes do not properly brace their knees.
Direct collision: direct impact to the knee due to collisions. This is especially common in high-contact sports like soccer or football where the knee can receive a direct blow, resulting in a torn ACL.
Pivoting sharply: pivoting your body sharply while leaving your foot planted on the floor can cause significant strain to your knee and result in an ACL tear. This is very dangerous and will lead to extreme pain in the knee.
How to Prevent ACL Tears
The best way to help prevent an ACL tear or other form of injury is to train properly and follow all safety regulations when exercising. This includes bracing your knees, practicing proper posture while exercising, and not overworking your knee.
Core exercises and activities that strengthen the hips and abdomen are very helpful as they provide the muscle needed to take the pressure off the knee when carrying out activities. Leg and hamstring exercises also help with this and provide balance to the body.
How can Physical Therapy help with ACL Tear?
When an ACL is torn, it may be a partial tear or a complete tear. Both of these situations will require physical therapy for regaining mobility and reducing swelling, but the intensity of the therapy may differ.
For patients who do not require any surgical procedures, physical therapy procedures are solely focused on stimulating muscles and helping patients regain strength and balance. Therapy for patients undergoing surgery takes place both before and after the procedure and includes rehabilitation and pain relief.
ACL tears can be treated with a wide range of physical therapy practices. To further understand these, you can contact us today!