The Anterior Cruciate Ligament (ACL) seems to be one of the most commonly torn ligaments in the body. This is especially true amongst athletes who play sports like basketball, soccer, and football. Any sport that requires quick changes in direction and has the possibility for collisions with other players is a potential threat to the health of the ACL.
The ACL is important for the control and stability of the knee. When people injure this ligament, they often complain of a loose knee joint that may slightly dislocate from time to time. This is frustrating for a lot of athletes, but an ACL injury doesn’t mean that your athletic career will be changed forever. In this article, I’ll try to explain what you can do to prevent and recover from ACL injuries.
ACL Tear Prevention
Since an ACL tear is often caused by a twisting of the knee, it would be a good idea to wear some sort of compression sleeve on your knee to reduce strain. This is especially true if you’re starting to notice a little bit of pain in your knee even if you haven’t been injured. Any pain is a sign of weakness that needs to be supported so no further damage is done.
Also, make sure that you are aware of the way in which you’re landing a jump when you’re actually playing a sport. Try to absorb as much impact when you come down by bending at the knees. Never come down straight-legged as this puts a tremendous amount of pressure on your ligaments and knee joint.
What To Do If You Tear Your ACL
As you probably already guessed, an ACL tear can really put a damper on your athletic abilities. If this sort of injury is left untreated it can have serious consequences in the future such as constant joint pain, random dislocation, and limited movement. Here are a few things you should do to give yourself the best odds for a full recovery.
- Always be sure to rest the injury. This may seem obvious, but sometimes tears aren’t always noticeable when doing simple things like walking. This may lead you to believe that you can just take off running, only to find out that your ligament was actually badly damaged and is now completely torn since you decided to go for a run. The best thing to do is to just take it easy until you’ve seen a doctor.
- You should probably get an MRI if a doctor recommends it. This will help diagnose if the ACL is completely torn or just partially. Sometimes doctors will recommend surgery for a ligament that is completely torn…which leads me to my next piece of advice.
- Make sure you look into a physical therapy program before deciding to have surgery if you’ve suffered from a complete tear. You don’t want to go through a surgery if you don’t actually need it, and a physical therapist can give you some insight as to what your options might be.
- If you’re experiencing swelling at the joint you should put some ice on it. This will help reduce the swelling along with the nagging pain you might feel.
- Wrap the joint with a compression sleeve or other type of medical wrap to help reduce pain. Pressure on a injured joint can help keep it in place and reduce any excess movement that might cause further injury.
- If you have a complete tear, you’ll probably need some sort of brace that is a bit thicker and stronger than medical wrap. Braces can be a bit clunky, but they will help tremendously in the long run.
- If you want to move your leg to test your joint, make sure you do it slowly. Start by moving it when you’re sitting down so your weight is not on it. Then, try moving your knee while standing once you’re comfortable.
I hope these tips help a bit. Be sure to talk to a doctor as soon as possible after a knee injury to find out exactly what you need to do. The outlook for an ACL injury is judged on a case by case basis, so it will be up to you to find out what sorts of things you’ll have to do to make a full recovery. Until then, use the tips above to help prevent an ACL injury and reduce any pain that might accompany one.