What is the ACL?
The Anterior Cruciate Ligament (ACL) is one of the bands of connective tissue that helps to hold together the three sections of your knee joint. It is extremely important for stability. And injury to the ACL may coincide with a tear of the meniscus as well. At Good Health Physical Therapy we will help diagnose and rehabilitate an ACL tear pre and post-surgery. And can also help patients prevent ACL tears through education in proper movement patterns and stability exercises in both the athlete and the general population.
How does it tear?
Often injuries to the ACL are the result of vigorous activity such as sport. The act of pivoting while your feet are firmly planted contributes significantly to ACL injury. As do direct contact injuries to the ACL as one might experience in football or rugby. Sudden changes in direction also put a significant amount of strain on the ACL and are a significant source of ACL tears. They can also occur from hard or awkward landings that put a lot of shock on the knee joint.
Ideally proper preventative measures can keep you from experiencing an ACL tear. However if you do experience one there are several treatment options. Strengthening regimens as well as bracing and measured rest are all part of the rehabilitative toolkit our physical therapists employ. A patient is often relegated to crutches so that they don’t place unnecessary weight or strain on the affected knee. For less active patients and less sever injuries this may be enough treatment to repair the damage.
If the damage is more severe or the patient is an active athlete surgery may be an option. During ACL surgery the damaged ligament is removed and replaced with a tendon taken either from the patient or a donor in what is known as a graft. A new ligament will form around the tendon helping to restore function. Following surgery more rehabilitative therapy is necessary to ensure that the new ligament is functioning and growing normally.
Our Fitness Training Program can help prevent ACL injuries by ensuring proper movement patterns and strength levels prior to sport.