ACL or the anterior cruciate ligament is a soft tissue found in the knees. Any injury to the said tissue may lead to a debilitating condition known as the ACL injury. ACL injury is very common among athletes because of the increased risk for tears and ruptures in the ligament following high-impact sports, so they are frequent visitors to their local Land O Lakes chiropractor office. This type of injury is a concern because it causes more knee instability than any other injuries to the knee area.
An ACL injury can range from minor tears to complete rupture of the ligament. It may also occur along with pain, swelling, popping sound, and a wobbly feeling in the knees. Regardless of the severity, dealing with ACL tears is very important to make sure that the knees are stable for movement. Prominent athletes have already experienced ACL injuries and this has caused them not to play for a considerable time until the knees are well stabilized and restored. Continuing athletic activities with an ACL injury may lead to permanent and complete cartilage damage on the knees and may possibly lead to osteoarthritis.
In dealing with an ACL injury, there are various managements that can be employed. These include:
If you suddenly feel a popping sound and a wobbly feeling in your knees, the first aid treatment is to stop your activity and take some rest. This prevents further tears in the cartilage.
Along with rest, icing is also an effective first aid management to reduce swelling and pain along the knee area. Apply ice packs every 15 to 20 minutes.
Compression is another management for an ACL injury. This allows for better stability of the knee and improved venous return. Also, elevate the affected leg over a pillow to enhance venous return and reduce swelling on the knees.
- Strengthening exercises for the muscles
When the muscles around the knee area is well established, the function of the ACL becomes minimal; thereby, developing stronger and more flexible muscles will allow the knees to become more stable in spite the presence of an ACL injury. The hamstring and quadriceps muscles are also trained because they help stabilize the leg in the presence of an ACL injury.
- Physical therapy
Another important management for ACL injury is physical therapy employing various techniques to help regain the stability of the knees.
Surgery is a must for large or severe tears in the anterior cruciate ligament. Surgery is actually needed because the ligaments don’t have a blood supply; hence, it will not heal on its own. The operation involves a reconstructive surgery and is done weeks after the injury to allow the inflammation and swelling to subside. Surgery to the ACL involves using other tendons from other parts of the body to reconstruct the damaged ligament.
During the entire course of the recovery, crutches are needed to avoid the weight of the body from being placed on the affected knee.
Prevention of ACL Injury
Aside from the treatments, preventing an ACL injury is the best management that anyone can employ. According to researches, regular neuromuscular training concentrating on balance, proprioception, developing muscle strength and proper body mechanics reduces the risk for an ACL injury by up to 80%. You can also visit a chiropractor for the diagnosis and effective treatment of ACL injuries.