One of the most common ligament injuries occurring in the knee is an ACL tear. The anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) is the primary ligament preventing the tibia from coming forward underneath the knee. It is the most important stabiliser of the knee.
What Causes an ACL tear?
ACL tears normally occur whilst playing sport. It is often a non- contact injury, The ACL is usually injured in landing flat on the heel or rapid deceleration followed by a sudden change in direction.
What are the symptoms of an ACL tear?
Significant pain and swelling in the knee occur immediately after the injury. You may feel unstable like your knee wants to give way from under you.
Treatment for ACL tears
Although you can live without an ACL, it is recommended for most people to undergo ACL reconstruction surgery.
Will you need an operation for an ACL tear?
Pain and swelling will start to settle following injury. However, as time goes on the knee might start to feel unstable or give way.
A few factors that may influence your decision to undergo surgery include:
- Regular participation in sport or physical activity requiring changes in direction
- Frequency of episodes of giving way i.e. the degree of instability
- Associated injuries
- Patient goals and expectations
Before surgery, Physiotherapy aims to restore pain- free range of movement and strengthen the knee to prepare it for surgery and post- surgical outcome.
Rehabilitation following surgery is importing in restoring full range of movement, strength, proprioception and knee motor control. Thorough rehabilitation tailored to your sport of choice will help with your transition back into sport. Every patient should be discharged with the PEP Program developed by the Santa Monica Sports Medicine Foundation. The program has been shown to reduce the risk of ACL injury and prevent a second injury, Gilchrist et al (2008).
If you decide that surgery isn’t for you, Physiotherapy can help restore pain- free range of movement with capacity to return to normal activity through soft tissue releases, knee motor control and strengthening exercises, stretches and proprioceptive exercises.
Your Physiotherapist will discuss your treatment goals and educate you about the condition, the rehabilitation process and preventative methods to reduce the risk of future injury.
To book an appointment with one of our skilled Physiotherapists please call (02) 8068 8832 or email us at [email protected].
Gilchrist J, Mandelbaum BR, Melancon H (2008) A randomized controlled trial to prevent noncontact anterior cruciate ligament injury in female collegiate soccer players. Am J Sports Med.36(8):1476-83