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What is an ACL Injury?

Wednesday, 6 September 2017  |  Paul

Accounting for approximately 40% of all sporting injuries, damage to the ACL is not a condition you can ignore. If left untreated, the injury can quickly become an even bigger problem as it causes more damage in the area. Find out more about the condition and what you should do to treat it by reading our blog here on Health and Care.

What is an ACL Injury?

The anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) is one of four ligaments in your knee connecting the three bones in the region together and plays a role in controlling the back and forth motion of your knee. The most common type of ACL injury is a sprain (or tear), which tends to occur alongside other damage to the knee's structure. There are three grades of sprains:

  • Grade one: ligament is still able to keep your knee stable but has been slightly stretched
  • Grade two: ligament has been stretched so much that it's become loose
  • Grade three (most common): ligament is completely torn and knee has becoming unstable

Causes of an ACL Injury

ACL injuries tend to be caused by trauma to the knee and are predominantly sustained when you are playing sports like skiing, squash, football, tennis and rugby. This type of injury accounts for approximately 40% of all sporting injuries and is one of the most common type of knee injury. Common traumatic causes include the following:

  • Sudden change in direction
  • Landing incorrectly after a jump
  • Colliding with another player
  • Suddenly stopping rather than slowly coming to a halt

How Do I Know if I Have an ACL Injury?

What is an ACL Injury?

The most common symptom of an ACL injury is pain and swelling in the area. This can occur even a day after you suffered trauma to the region. Other symptoms include:

  • Popping or cracking sound at the time of injury
  • Not being able to move your knee back and forth
  • Tenderness along the joint

It's integral that, even if the pain and swelling subsides, you don't return to sports until the injury is treated and you seek medical advice as the injury can cause further damage to the area.

How Do I Treat My ACL Injury?

An ACL injury can either be treated surgically or non-surgically. Which type of treatment your medical professional decides on will depend on your age and activity levels; if you're a young athletic person getting ready to play in the Olympics, you'll likely need surgery so you can continue enjoying your lifestyle. If, however, you're less active, you might prefer non-surgical treatment before returning to a fairly sedentary life.

Non-Surgical Treatment

It should be noted that the ligament will never heal properly unless surgery is performed. If you decide not to have surgery, your doctor might suggest that you wear a brace to help immobilise and stabilise the area to prevent the injury from worsening. Physical therapy can also help strengthen the surrounding leg muscles to take pressure off the ligament.

Surgical Treatment

A short period of time is left between you sustaining the injury and the surgery taking place as this can help you recover more in the long run. The ligament must be reconstructed with a tissue graft from a tendon in your body like the hamstring tendon. The graft effectively helps the new ligament grow in the correct position and this process can take around six months.

After surgery, you'll often have to follow non-surgical treatments to help strengthen the area and get back to where you were. This includes physical therapy and wearing a brace, particularly when you begin returning to sports.

Health and Care's ACL Supports

At Health and Care, we're passionate about providing you with the means to get back on your feet again. We have a range of different supports available for all you sporty people, such as the Donjoy Armor Professional Knee Brace with Fourcepoint. This is a perfect support for those who take part in extreme and contact sports, as well as skiing and motorcross. Designed with aircraft-grade aluminium, the Knee Brace is exceptionally strong and lightweight so you can take part in all the sporting activities you used to love without feeling weighed down. Take a look here at other hinged knee braces that could help with an ACL injury.

Leave us a comment to let us know what you think about debilitating ACL injuries. Or contact us on Facebook and Twitter if you prefer!

Tags: ACL Injuries, Health and Care Expert Series, Knee Braces, Knee Pain, Learn About Conditions