The ACL is a structure that is in the knee that has the function to help stabilise the knee against anterior translations and limit internal rotation of the tibia. Injuries to the ACL are common in sports, usually as a result of trauma, a tackle or in rare cases non-traumatic events such as twisting the knee while the foot in on the ground.
The mechanism in which an ACL injury occurs is due to an internal or inward rotation of the tibia in an opposing direction of the femur. This is normally seen when the foot is planted with a pivoting motion of the knee. Most ACL injuries will require surgical intervention in order to restore the function of the ACL. Occasionally, some ACL injuries may only require rehabilitation aiming to achieve functional stability of the knee.
Rehabilitation of an ACL injury will be quite extensive. Initially, appointments will likely be biweekly or weekly, where pain reduction strategies and range of motion activities will be addressed, these appointments may also include a neuromuscular training phase which focuses on achieving strength. Long term, appointments will become focused on active care including strength and balance drills and then finally return to sport/play phase. During this phase the patient will be directed into drills and movements that are targeted to the specific sport in which they wish to return to.
If an operation is required, orthopaedic surgeons will perform a grafting procedure. There are many options as to which tissue would be used to graft the ACL. Factors such as sport, age, competitive level and previous injury to the knee will all inform this decision.. If surgery is the route chosen, then an extensive pre- rehabilitation program is important. During the pre-rehab, it is important to maintain range of motion and strength of the quads, hamstrings and calve complex.
Once the surgery is completed rehabilitation is important and will take anywhere from 6-12 months. During this time the rehab will focus on protecting the recently operated knee, restore range of motion and regain functional strength of the knee. .
If you are suffering from an ACL injury, trust a professional to help guide you through the process of decision making for reduction of pain and return to function.