Anterior Cruciate Ligament sprain or tear

Anterior Cruciate Ligament sprain or tear

Definition

Injuries to the anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) are common. They can be classified as Grade 1, 2 or 3:

  • Grade 1 - The ligament fibres are stretched but there is no tear
  • Grade 2 - The ligament fibres are partially torn
  • Grade 3 - The ligament fibres are completely torn (ruptured) Mechanism of Injury 60-80% of injuries occur in non-contact situations. They often occur in sports whilst changing direction or pivoting

ACL injuries are commonly seen in football, skiing, rugby, gymnastics, netball and basketball.

Assessment

Cat ALO Assessment by physiotherapists at ALO will include manual testing to identify whether the ACL has been injured as well as testing other structures which may be injured (eg. the meniscus or medial collateral ligament). Your physiotherapist can recommend whether you may benefit from any further investigations.

ACL Reconstruction

Sometimes reconstructive surgery is performed, which involves constructing a graft, for example from the hamstring tendon, and fixing it in position within the knee joint. Surgery isn’t always recommended as a treatment for people with ACL sprain or rupture. Surgery is more likely in people with more severe ACL injuries and in younger sporty people.

Watch this video for more information about Reconstructive Surgery

Rehabilitation

Rehabilitation of ACL injuries is about gaining good knee stability, preventing re-injury and returning to full function, including returning to sports. In the early stages following injury, your physiotherapist will focus on pain reduction, reducing swelling and regaining range of motion. The next phase is about increasing specific muscle strength of the hamstrings and quadriceps muscles.

Rehabilitation will progress to include balance and more dynamic exercises. The later phases of rehabilitation are about bringing in quicker changes of direction, acceleration and deceleration motions and higher complexities of movements. This will include rehabilitation of more complex movements associated with sports. If you are having surgery, your rehabilitation protocol will be adapted so you will have specific exercises in preparation for the surgery as well as for each week following surgery.

 

Treatments may include:

  • Specific Rehabilitative Exercise, tailored for each phase of rehab
  • Manual Therapy
  • Taping
  • Electrotherapy