Anterior cruciate ligament or the ACL, is a ligament located inside the knee joint. It is the major connector of the femur bone and the tibia bone. It is a key part of the knee joint in maintaining a stable and flexible knee.
Causes of ACL Injuries
ACL injuries are caused in various ways. A common cause of injury is when a traumatic force is applied to the knee – while in a twisting moment. This causes forceful hyperextension. Snow boarders and snow skiers are susceptible to these types of injuries. When a skier or boarder lands a jump, hits the moguls or twists in their equipment, it can result in forceful hyperextensions. Additionally, this type of injury can occur when there is contact from the front or side – and when you think of skiing and taking a tumble you can imagine exactly how this can happen – especially if you have bindings that don’t release when they should.
What are the symptoms of an ACL Injury?
If you have ever had or heard someone describe the moment, they injured their ACL you might remember the description including the sound or popping during the injury. After the pop comes the pain and the swelling. As the injured tries to apply weight – like when standing or walking, the knee can feel like is gives out and is wobbly and unstable. If you or someone you are with has or is experiencing symptoms like this, seek help right away and take it easy so you don’t do more damage. You will likely need an MRI or arthroscopy to diagnose your level of injury.
What is next? The prognosis…
There are people that are able to function with a complete or partial tear. But it is not ideal. Their mobility will be limited. The pain will take a long time to subside, and the risk to the knee is greater when performing any exercise or even walking. Usually and ACL injury requires surgical repair or reconstruction if the patient wishes to return to mobility. Fortunately, with today’s technology and procedures, your Orthopedic Surgeon can get you back to skiing often within a year.
The initial treatment of an acute ACL injury often includes ice, anti-inflammatory medication, and physical therapy which is directed at restoring the range of motion of the injured knee. Depending on the severity, recovery will involve exercise, a brace, and/or surgical reconstruction of the ligament. A complete tear will most likely require surgical reconstruction of the ACL. This is a common procedure with an extremely high success rate. The most common type of ACL reconstruction involves harvesting the central third of the patellar tendon with a bone block at each end of the tendon graft. If it is even a relatively moderate ACL tear, your season is over and daily therapy will become a routine.
If you suspect you have an ACL injury call Orthopedic Associates of Denver and let one of our highly trained Doctors get you back on track.