The anterior cruciate ligament (ACL)is a band of fibrous tissue that connects the thigh bone (femur) to the shin bone (tibia). The function is to limit twisting (rotational) forces through the leg.
The ACL is commonly injured or ruptured whilst playing running sports or snow sports. Changing direction (pivoting or side stepping) during running sports, the knee gives way and sensation of “popping” can occur. Snow sports, impact at high or low speeds, incorrect fall out techniques or a failed binding release can also result in a tearing sensation accompanied by pain.
The knee can swell rapidly (within the first few hours following the initial injury), so the initial phase of treatment should be RICER (rest, ice, compression, elevation and referral to either a physiotherapist or Sports physician) and there may be the need for crutches.
The Physiotherapist or Sports Physician may send you for scans (Xray, MRI or CT) on your knee to determine the extent of damage. Further referral to an orthopaedic surgeon may be required if a complete rupture of your ACL has occurred.
Prior to most surgical treatment a period of conservative treatment (physiotherapy) is advised to reduce swelling, restore the knee joints range of motion, and build muscle bulk to help stabilize the joint.
After the operation, physiotherapy recommences to overcome the effects of surgery, such as swelling, pain and movement. Returning to sport and activities of daily life is varied from patient to patient. Of the general population, around the 6 month mark to return to sports that require the change of direction.
This knee injury is seen frequently by Guildford Physiotherapists and many orthopedic surgeons refer patients to the clinic for the knee rehabilitation.
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