Athletes who are active in sports like football, basketball, and similar games, those people who are engaged in more strenuous physical jobs are prone to injuries. Among various injuries, a common knee injury is an anterior cruciate ligament tear. Our knee has 2 ligaments that are crossed and shaped towards the front of the body and these are called anterior cruciate ligaments. This ligament connects the shin bone with the thigh bone. This ligament helps in stabilizing the knee joint and helps in stopping forward movement and rotation of the shin bone on the thigh bone.
This anterior cruciate ligament can tear up or can get injured while suddenly slowing down the pace changing direction suddenly, landing incorrectly from a jump, facing a blow to the knee is stopping suddenly.
Types of ACL tears:
When there is an anterior cruciate ligament injury it becomes difficult and painful in activities that require climbing jumping or pivoting. The injury is graded based on its severity as grade one grade 2 and grade 3 type of ACL tears. Grade one ACL tears are the case when the ligaments are stretched but still are capable of stabilizing the knee joint. In grade 2 these ligaments are stretched as well as loosened that is partially torn and in grade 3 the ligament is divided into 2 pieces thus grade 3 is considered a severe form of injury. In some cases, the ACL tears are accompanied by other injuries to nearby ligaments, cartilages, or joint capsules.
The common sign that indicates that there has been an ACL tear is one where you may feel pain and you may hear a pop sound. Due to injury, one may face discomfort while walking, there may be swelling lasting for 2 to 4 weeks at the injured site, and there may be a loss of range of motion of the knee and tenderness around the knee.
Diagnosis and treatment of ACL tear:
In order to diagnose ACL, tear the healthcare expert would ask for an X-ray and in some cases an MRI. For those who are not into athletes or those who are relatively inactive then physical therapy is successful in treating the mild ACL tear. But there are few non-surgical options that are preferable in mild cases. These include bracing and physical therapy. But there is still a high risk of re-injury and thus surgery is widely preferred. But the fact is that the ACL tear won’t heal own and thus the option for complete treatment is to undergo ACL tear surgery. This ACL tear surgery is also recommended to those who are physically highly active and are aiming to return back to physical activities quickly like sportspersons.
ACL tear surgery procedure and recovery :
The ACL tear surgery comprises ACL reconstruction surgery where the torn ACL is grafted through the tendons from the body. The tendon generally is taken from the hamstring or from the kneecap. In the ACL tear surgery procedure, the surgeon makes use of an arthroscope which is a wand-like instrument that is inserted into the knee through a small incision. The graft of the tendon is taken and used to reconstruct the ACL ligament. Since this is a minimally invasive procedure the patient can go home the same day after the surgery if all the vital signs are normal.
After the surgery the patient is advised to take rest, to avoid swelling and pain. In the first few weeks after the surgery, physical exercises shall be carried out to perform gentle movements. Following it is physical therapy for strengthening the knees and balancing workouts. It is after 6 to nine months the patient can return back to sporting activities after the surgery.
ACL tear injury risk factors:
The risks associated with the ACL tear surgery are bleeding and infection at the surgical site. These must not be ignored and must be treated immediately. Apart from these, the patient may feel knee stiffness or pain, and failure of the graft after returning to sporting activities. Hence it is necessary to plan properly before making the surgical decision. Moreover, it is recommended to get the surgery done by an expert surgeon.
Clinical studies have found that females are at higher risk for ACL tears when compared to males. Females tend to use different moves or skills while performing activities like jump. Females make use of the quadriceps first while males are found to use the hamstring first. Due to the quadriceps being used first the strain on the knee ligaments is more when compared to men. Moreover, females tend to land during jumps with knees closer to each other this puts more strain on knees and increases the risk of ACL injury. Moreover, the differences in pelvis and lower legthe alignment in females differ from males. Differences in muscle strength, differences in activation of muscles, and differences in leg alignment make women prone to ACL injury.
ACL tear is very common, especially among athletes and those who are involved in strenuous physical activities. The ACL tear may temporarily stop you from working as there are numerous treatment options that can bring your movement back. The option includes taking rest and taking physical therapy, making use of clutches, or going for ACL tear surgery. The choice depends on your medical condition and the recommendations based on by the surgeon. Moreover, it is necessary to remain positive before returning back to workouts.