An Athlete’s Worst Nightmare – ACL Injury

Anterior Cruciate Ligament (ACL) injury is one of the most common ligament injuries in sports. More than 3% of athletes in a 4-year period of sporting activity sustain a rupture of the ACL and the risk is higher in female population. The incident rate is 200,000 cases/year in the USA.

About half of all ACL injuries occur along with damage to other structures in the knee, such as articular cartilage, meniscus, or other ligaments. Injured ligaments are described as “sprains” and are graded on a severity scale.

Grade 1 – Ligament is mildly damaged but still able to help stabilize the knee

Grade 2 – Ligament stretches to the point where it becomes loose, often referred to as a partial tear of the ligament

Grade 3 – Most commonly referred to as a complete tear of the ligament

Most commonly the ACL is torn when changing directions rapidly, stopping suddenly, slowing down while running, landing from a jump incorrectly, or a collision to the side of the knee.  Common symptoms of a torn ACL include: “popping” sensation, immediate swelling, feeling of instability of the knee after injury, loss of full range of motion, discomfort with walking and changing directions.

Tore your ACL now what? A torn ACL will not heal on it’s own. Depending on your activity level and which activities you would want to perform, often you can function without surgical intervention. If return to cutting sports or high activity levels, surgical intervention is necessary. Physical therapy is a necessity if you chose non-surgical or surgical interventions to build strength and endurance to allow you to return to sport and other recreational activities.

For more information regarding ACL injuries and recovery process please call your doctor or speak to one of us at Innovative Physical Therapy.