Sports Knee Injuries
What is an ACL?
How does the ACL rupture?
Several studies have also shown that female athletes are at higher risk of ACL ruptures than their male counterparts due to differences in physical conditioning, muscular strength, effects of estrogen and ligament laxity as well as anatomical differences in the pelvis and leg alignments.
How do I know if I ruptured my ACL?
Patients may not achieve stability while jogging in a straight line or cycling as there is minimal twisting movement in the knee when performing these exercises. Oher symptoms include discomfort while walking, loss of range of motion and pain along the knee joint.
An X-ray of the knee will be done to exclude any fractures while an MRI would be the modality of choice to assess an ACL rupture. Some patients have other injuries such as meniscal tears or ligament sprains in addition to the ACL rupture from the fall. An MRI scan of the knee will be able to detect these injuries in one step.
What treatments do I need after I rupture my ACL?
A knee brace can be used to protect your knee from instability. To further protect you from falling, crutches may be provided to help you walk. Physiotherapy after an ACL rupture aims to restore the normal range of motion of the knee, normal gait while walking and develop muscle strength of the quads and hamstring muscles. The torn or ruptured ACL will not heal itself. This is because the blood supply to the ACL had been disrupted during the injury.
Whether you decide to have surgery or not, rehabilitation plays a vital role in helping you return to your daily activities. Your surgeon and physiotherapist will customize a rehabilitation program for you to facilitate an accelerated recovery.
Can your ACL be repaired?
The ACL must be reconstructed to restore the stability of your knee. This is done through arthroscopic or key-hole techniques to facilitate an early return to function, and your torn ACL is replaced with a tissue graft. There are several options to obtain this tissue graft, including your own hamstrings, your patella, and its surrounding tendons as well a cadaveric graft (allograft).
There are advantages and disadvantages to all options, and it is recommended to discuss with your surgeon on the option that suits you best.
How is the ACL surgery performed?
3 weeks post-surgery
5 weeks post-surgery
3 months post-surgery
4-5 months post-surgery
Strenuous twisting motion of the knee such as a return to football or basketball is not recommended before 12 months, as your new ACL graft merely acts as a scaffold while your body adds new tissue to it and strengthens it again. There are have been numerous examples of both social and professional athletes who returned to a high level of exercise and sports too early and re-ruptured their new ACL graft.