Anterior cruciate ligament is one of the important ligaments joining the thigh bone (femur) to the leg bone (tibia). In general, ACL injuries can vary from minor injuries, such as small ligament tears, to more serious cases like complete tears or fracture of bone attached to ACL.
These injuries usually occur during sports activities, like soccer, basketball, football, gymnastics, tennis, and volleyball or due to road traffic accidents or severe fall/twisting injury etc. An untreated ACL injury can lead to a condition called an ACL deficiency. In some cases, the cartilage covering the ends of the bones may get damaged or tearing and trapping the cushion pads (meniscus) supporting the knee joints. This eventually leads to damaged knee joints.
Signs and symptoms of anterior cruciate ligament may include:
You experience feelings of instability in knee or loss of balance while running or jumping.
You experience immense pain while walking up and down stairs. You are unable to engage much in physical activities like running and jumping.
Your knee begins to swell gradually.
You can sense a loud popping sensation when moving your knee.
Anterior cruciate ligament injuries generally occur during sports. Here are some common possible instances that might happen during a game:
Sudden arrest in movement like running.
An unsteady landing from a jump
Direct blows to the knee from tackles
Sudden shifts in direction
Treatment of ACL injuries normally involves the following:
1. Immediate medical attention along with intense first aid care.
2. Sincere adherence to the R.I.C.E model of self-care:
Rest: proper rest for a couple of weeks or months depending upon the severity of the injury
Ice: using ice packs to help cool the nerves
Compression: ice treatment further helps in compression
Elevation: when lying down in bed, it is strongly recommended that you keep your affected leg at a slightly higher position, through the use of pillows or cushions
3. Anterior cruciate ligament surgery or reconstruction
The surgery is done arthroscopically. It involves taking a hamstring tendon (tissue) around the knee and creating a new ligament in the knee. The new ACL is fixed with the help of bioabsorbable implants outside the knee joint. Patients walk from the next day and are independent. With the help of new age techniques, it is almost a painless surgery with prompt recovery.
They have to undergo rehabilitation under a trained physiotherapist for 3-6 months. Usually, patients can join their respective jobs at the end of 2 weeks. Usually, sportspersons can resume sports activities within 6 to 9 months from the date of surgery.
Posted by Dr. Nandan Rao