By Dr. Shabbir Suterwala, Orthopaedics
ACL injuries or Anterior Cruciate Ligament injuries are generally perceived as tears in any one of the knee ligaments joining the two bones. They range from minor injuries, like small tears, to more serious ones, such as complete ligament tears or when the ligament and a part of the upper leg bone get detached from the lower leg bone.
They most commonly occur during sports, such as soccer, football, basketball, tennis, volleyball, gymnastics and so on. If left untreated, the injured anterior cruciate ligament will cause much difficulty in knee movements, and the bones are bound to rub against each other causing immense pain. This condition is called an ACL deficiency and it can lead to damage in the cartilage, covering the ends of the bones. Even the cushion pads which support the knee joints could be trapped and torn.
Apparent signs and symptoms of the injury include the following:
- Excruciating pain and inability to engage much in physical activities.
- Inability to walk or move properly.
- A loud popping sensation in the knee complex.
- Gradual swelling of the knee and the leg.
- Feelings of instability and loss of body balance.
Most ACL injuries are caused by incidental mishaps during sports. Here are a few common instances:
- Landing from a jump unsteadily or incorrectly.
- Sudden slowing down or cutting directions.
- Sudden arrest in motion.
- Receiving direct blows to the knee or via hard impact collisions from say, football tackles.
- Being hit by fast-moving vehicles.
- Falling off a cycle.
1. Immediate and intensive first-aid care followed by the R.I.C.E model of self-care:
A) Complete rest for the injured leg
B) Applying ice compress
C) Elevating the knee and keeping it higher than the rest of the body
2. ACL reconstruction or surgery.
3. Several weeks of successive rehabilitative therapy.