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Anterior Cruciate Ligament (ACL) Injury

What is the ACL?


The knee is comprised of three bones the femur, tibia and patella (knee cap). The major ligaments of the knee are the Anterior and posterior cruciate ligaments (deep inside the knee) and the medial and later collateral ligaments (flank the outside of the knee.

These ligaments and the surround muscles act on the knee to provide stability.

The ACL prevents the tibia from shearing forwards with respect to the femur and help limit rotation.

How is the ACL usually injured?


Injury to the ACL is most often a result of a pivoting motion, decelerating suddenly or landing from a jump action. The injury can also occur from contact means when colliding with another player.

Other knee injuries such as damage to the collateral ligaments and meniscus may also be injured along with a ACL injury.

What are the signs and symptoms of an ACL injury?


Most people who experience this injury describe:
  • Loud ‘crack’ or ‘pop’
  • Immediate extreme pain
  • Large tense swelling in the knee (haemarthrosis)
  • Severe restriction of movement, especially into straightening

ACL Injury

What do I do if I suspect I have injured my ACL?


See a Physiotherapist ASAP. They will be able to determine the extent of the injury and to provide advice on treatment required. An MRI test may be recommended to confirm the diagnosis.

In the meantime, follow RICER for 48-72 hours and avoid HARM

R
Rest
For 48 hours
I
Ice
20mins on / 20mins off for 2 hrs; then 20mins every 4 hours
C
Compression
Use a bandage – ensure you do not wear it overnight
E
Elevation
Use pillows to help elevate the area
R
Referral
See a Physio ASAP for appropriate treatment and rehab
H
Heat
Causes increased swelling
A
Alcohol
Increases swelling and bleeding
R
Running
Increased blood flow and swelling, may damage tissue further
M
Massage
May cause further damage

Will I need surgery?


Surgical reconstruction is a very common method used to repair a completely torn ACL. A lot of factors are considered when deciding on whether to surgically reconstruct an ACL or not:
  • The degree of knee stability
  • Any other structures that are injured along with the ACL
  • The type of sport played
  • The age of the athlete
  • The cost of treatment and time away from work

Rehabilitation following a reconstruction is directed by the orthopaedic surgeon and under the supervision of a Physiotherapist. Rehabilitation usually takes between 6-9 months.

Want specific advice for your individual situation? Make an appointment today on (07) 3846 4800.

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