Knee & ACL injuries

Chartered Physiotherapy in Blackpool, St. Annes, Lytham, Poulton, Cleveleys and Fleetwood

Your anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) is one of four ligaments that are essential for keeping your knee joint stable. The ACL is tough and fibrous, functioning to protect the joint by limiting its mobility and range of motion. Tears can occur in any of the four knee ligaments, but an ACL injury or rupture is the most debilitating. ACL injuries happen when your leg bones twist in the opposite direction under the weight of your body.

What causes an ACL injury?

Most torn ACLs are the result of sporting activities, with around 80% caused by “non-contact” sports, normally from pivoting or landing from a jump. Because your ACL is so crucial to the stability of your knee, your knee will normally give-out from under you when you injure it. Statistically women have a higher risk of ACL injuries – but understanding why this might be is unclear.

ACL injuries are more common amongst high demand sports where your ACL is essential to performing common manoeuvres, including cutting, pivoting and sudden turns: football, rugby, basketball, netball, volleyball, tennis, hockey, gymnastics, and dance, amongst others. Athletes are often faced with the decision to have surgery in order to be able to return to their previous level of competitive fitness, and ACL injuries are one of the most common reasons for retirement from professional sport.

How do you treat a knee injury?

First, there’s the diagnosis. X-rays won’t really show an ACL injury, so your doctor or physiotherapist will start by looking for signs of instability, placing stress on the anterior cruciate ligament and looking for tears or ruptures. An MRI can also be useful in looking for any associated injuries in the knee, including bone bruising or meniscus damage that can go hand in hand with an ACL tear.

Many clients will an ACL tear will start to feel better within a few weeks of sustaining the injury. They may feel that their knee feels normal after any swelling settles down, but this can be when problems with knee instability crop up. Surgery is a common option for those who rely on their knee in competitive multi-directional sport. If surgery is not needed, you may be recommended a course of rehabilitation treatments which can involve leg strengthening, proprioception and balance retraining, as well as sport-specific functional enhancement.

If surgery takes place, it will need to be followed up with a programme of intensive post-operative physiotherapy – which should be seen as equally important as the procedure itself. The rehabilitation will focus on restoring your knee’s full range of motion, strength and endurance, as well as exercises that will promote better balance, proprioception and agility that will be tailored to your specific sport or activity. This is where the expertise of your physiotherapist is key. Our expert team will be able to give you advice and tailor your treatment to your specific injury and your recovery goals.

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