Treating Anterior Cruciate Ligament (ACL) Injury with Physiotherapy
Anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) injury refers to a tear or sprain of the ACL – a strong band of tissue that connects the thigh bone with the shinbone. Often, athletes indulging in football, downhill skiing, basketball, etc., suffer the most from ACL injuries. However, sudden stopping or changing directions while running can also lead to ACL damage. Let’s look at a few aspects of ACL injury, such as its causes, symptoms, types of treatment, etc.
What is ACL?
Your knee comprises bones, ligaments, tendons, and cartilage. The ACL is located in the front center of the knee, and as mentioned earlier, it connects the thigh bone and the shinbone. The ACL is a key ligament that stabilizes the knee joint, and it is one of the four primary ligaments in the knee, which, apart from ACL include, the Medial collateral ligament (MCL), Lateral collateral ligament (LCL), and Posterior cruciate ligament (PCL).
What are the Types of ACL Tears?
ACL injuries are graded on a one to three scale, of which, grade three is the most severe.
- Grade One: There has been stretch in the ligament, yet it continues to stabilize the knee joint.
- Grade Two: The ligament has experienced a stretch and has loosened. There’s a partial tear.
- Grade Three: The ligament is torn and divided into two pieces, thus indicating a severe injury and making the knee joint highly unstable.
What Causes an ACL Tear?
Most ACL injuries are non-contact. However, the most common causes of ACL injuries include,
- Knee twist
- Slowing down while running
- Suddenly stopping while running
- A sudden change in the direction
- Improper landing during a jump
What are the Symptoms of an ACL Tear?
An ACL injury causes a popping or a clicking sound with severe pain. Some of the other symptoms are,
- Immediate swelling or after five to six hours after the injury, lasting for a few weeks
- Discomfort while walking
- Affected range of motion in the knee
How Doctors Diagnose an ACL Tear?
The doctor might order an x-ray to check for bone fractures if any. Further, they might ask you to perform an MRI test to see the ligaments and the torn part. Arthroscopy is another alternative, wherein the orthopedic surgeon makes a small cut in the skin and inserts a pencil-sized tool with light and lens into the joint. The camera shows an image of the joint on a screen, where the doctors can see the injury.
How to Treat ACL Tear?
Depending on the grade of injury, doctors suggest physiotherapy that follows the principle of POLICE.
- P: Protection with the help of a knee brace or a walking aid
- OL: Optimal loading – minimum weight bearing on the injured leg to facilitate the healing process
- I: Ice therapy to reduce pain and swelling
- C: Compression with a crepe bandage tied around the knee joint to prevent oedema/ swelling progression.
- E: Elevation to maintain venous and systemic blood circulation/ flow
The physiotherapist begins with strengthening exercises of the leg muscles once the initial symptoms subside. The exercises can include using weight cuffs, own body weight, and using resistance bands to help muscles gain strength. Furthermore, physiotherapy also involves performing weight-bearing exercises such as standing with increasing difficulty levels to increase knee joint stability.
The rehabilitation protocol usually lasts three to six months, based on the recovery level. Grade One and Grade Two ACL tears can be treated through medications and physiotherapy unless there are other complications. However, Grade Three ACL requires surgical intervention and then rehabilitation.
Treat ACL Injuries with Ranka Hospital
Led by Dr. Ramesh Ranka, one of the leading orthopedic surgeons in India, Ranka Hospital is one of the best hospitals to diagnose and treat an ACL injury. Ranka’s orthopedic specialists leverage modern techniques to effectively diagnose the condition and chalk out the right treatment plan. Additionally, the hospital’s physiotherapists ensure regular exercise and monitor your condition regularly to help you recover steadily and appropriately. For an appointment, call 020 24261600.