An anterior cruciate ligament injury is a tear occurring in one of the ligaments of the knee that joins the lower leg bone with the upper leg bone. The ACL plays a big role in keeping the knee stable.
The ACL injury is a common sports injury occurring mostly in contact sports such as soccer, football, baseball etc. ACL injuries range from mild (like a small tear) to severe where the ligament tears itself completely away from the bone.
In this article, I am going to provide you with a few basic tips on treating ACL injuries and also to prevent it as much as possible from happening on the field. After all, prevention is always better than cure.
But before all that, we have to see the common causes for which players suffer ACL injuries during a workout or on the field.
Causes of ACL Injuries
Like I said before, most ACL injuries happen in contact sports especially at the time of some heavy action. Some common causes of ACL injuries are:
- Slowing down and changing direction suddenly.
- An incorrect jump.
- Abrupt stopping.
- Pivoting with the foot placed firmly down on the ground.
- Receiving a blow to the knee, for example, a soccer tackle.
If you want to know the different ways through which ACL injuries happen in greater detail, take a peek at this short video.
How can you recognize an ACL injury?
The symptoms commonly include things like:
- A loud popping sensation in the affected knee.
- Extreme pain and inability to engage in any sort of activity.
- Swelling occurring within a few hours.
- Instability feeling.
Treatment right after the injury (through first aid)
The first and the foremost thing that you’ll have to do is to ensure that the victim really has the ACL injury. After you are sure of the fact that the dreaded ACL injury has really occurred, you need to take a few careful steps to provide him/her with immediate relief.
Here are the things that you should do:
- Move the victim to a safe place for first aid treatments. Do be careful in the process. Don’t move him too much in the process. Using a spineboard is absolutely essential in these circumstances.
- Immediate first aid to reduce pain and swelling. This includes things like applying ice to the affected area, using an elastic bandage for gentle compression.
- You can give him/her over the counter pain medicines such as acetaminophen or nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs).
- Ask your victim NOT to put pressure on the affected leg for the first few days. Advice him/her to use a crutch in case there’s a need for movement. Complete rest is mandatory for ACL treatments.
- You can also ask him/her to do certain exercises to get him/her leg back in shape. But remember you should advise him/her to do that only after a few more days of rest. If his/her condition doesn’t improve in the meantime, DO NOT even try this route. Ask him/her to consult a medical professional ASAP.
ACL tear Medical treatments
In case the injury is too severe, a visit to a medical professional is a mighty improvement for ACL treatments.
The treatment of the victim will depend on several things such as:
- How much of the anterior cruciate ligament’s affected? (Is it a grade I, II or III tear?)
- How stable is the knee?
- Is there an occurrence of any other injury related to the ACL tear?
- Does the victim have a history of knee problems such as osteoarthritis?
- How active is his/her routine?
- The age as well as the overall health of the victim.
Medical treatment options usually include things like:
- Non-surgical treatments (such as rehab program).
- Anterior cruciate ligament surgery to reconstruct the entire ACL and repair other related injuries.
Preventing ACL injuries
This one specifically goes for you if you are a player engaged in a contact sport like football, soccer, baseball, rugby etc.
You should take certain measures to keep ACL tears at bay. Believe me, ACL tears are painful, take a long time and can definitely have a long-term effect on your career. You would obviously not want it to happen in your career.
Hence, it’s necessary to take precautions at the start. After all, prevention’s better than cure. Here are a few tips and tricks to keep ACL injuries at bay.
- Try NOT to wear shoes having cleats in your games.
- DO NOT wear high heeled shoes.
- If possible avoid sports involving a lot of twisting and turning (this will, of course, be impossible if your career is based on contact sports).
- In case you have a history of ACL injuries, consider changing your running and dribbling techniques to avoid those motions that play a big role in stressing your previously-injured legs.
- Wearing a knee brace can also be helpful.
ACL injuries aren’t ones to be trifled with. In many cases, they do turn out to be pretty serious in the end. Do not invite these injuries by taking unnecessary and flamboyant risks on the ground. Be safe to ensure having a long and eventful career. Good luck!
Published by: Tom Starke