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Anterior Cruciate Ligament, ACL Injury – Symptoms, Causes, & Treatment

Written by Kausalya on

Anterior cruciate ligament injury or ACL injury is a type of injury to the ligament in a patient’s knee. A ligament is a strong band of tissues that connect one bone to another. ACL is one of the two ligaments that connects the thighbone (femur) to the shinbone (tibia) and helps in stabilizing the knee joint. ACL injury is a tear or sprain that prevents the patient’s shinbone from sliding forward. It occurs when people jump or pivot suddenly i.e. make a sharp turn. Ignorance of this injury could further damage the patient’s knee.

3D medical animation still shot depicting ACL Injury
3D medical animation still shot depicting ACL Injury

Symptoms

Some common signs of ACL injury typically include:

  • Severe pain while walking, twisting, and turning the injured leg
  • Loss of range of motion
  • Rapid swelling within 6 to 24 hours of injury
  • Unable to bear weight

Another major symptom of the injury is a loud, popping sensation in the knee as soon as the injury occurs, although it doesn’t happen with everyone. Some patients also feel that their joint has become loose than before. Even flexing the patient’s knee can cause immense pain and difficulty.

Causes

This is a type of injury that is typically observed in sportspersons who play basketball, football, soccer or do skiing as these sports involve jumping and/or pivoting, the main cause behind the injury. This injury can also occur if the side of the knee is hit in a car accident or football tackle.

Some of the movements that increase the probability of getting an ACL injury are

  • Overextension of the knee joint
  • Changing speed while sprinting or running
  • Rapidly changing direction
  • Landing flat-footed

Treatment

As per medical resources, the treatment of ACL injury in different parts of the world depends entirely upon the level of injury sustained by the patient, and the requirements of the patient. It has been observed that some of the patients continue their normal life routine while some suffer other types of knee injuries.

Some of the methods employed by the knee surgeons across the world include:

  • First aid: If the extent of the injury is very low, i.e. minor damage has been received, then first aid is given first by the doctors, which may include putting ice,  elevating the injured leg, and wrapping an ace bandage to reduce the swelling.
  • Knee brace: Doctors have been seen recommending the patients to wear knee braces to provide extra support while sprinting or doing any physical activity.
  • Medications: Doctors and physicians have been seen recommending anti-inflammatory drugs to the patients of ACL injury as it helps in reducing swelling and pain in the injured part of the knee. In some of the cases, it has also been observed that doctors inject the patient’s knee with steroids.
  • Physical therapies: To get back the knee in working order, physicians around the globe recommend this therapy for several weeks. Physical therapy strengthens the muscles around the knee and helps in restoring the entire range of motion.
  • Surgery: When ACL is torn badly, doctors and physicians have been seen to replace the damaged ACL with tissues which helps in growing new ligament, so that patients can fully recover within 12 months.

Disclaimer: The information in no way constitutes, or should be construed as medical advice. Nor is the above article an endorsement of any research findings discussed in the article an endorsement for any of the source publications.

Sources-

  1. https://www.healthline.com/health/anterior-cruciate-ligament-acl-injury
  2. https://www.webmd.com/pain-management/knee-pain/acl-injury-what-to-know#1
  3. https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/acl-injury/symptoms-causes/syc-20350738
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