What is an ACL injury?
The ACL is one of the major ligaments in your knee that most commonly occurs during sports that involve sudden stops or changes in direction, jumping and landing such as soccer, basketball, football, AFL, Netball and downhill skiing. Many people hear a “pop” in the knee with this injury and the knee may swell, feel unstable and can become too painful to bear weight. Often this may require an MRI to confirm the injury and then the most important decision is what to do next.
Risk factors for ACL injury: Being female possibly relating to anatomy and muscle strength is quite a high factor with females more at risk than males.
Participating in certain sports increase the risks based on high degrees of change of direction, cutting, turning and landing. Poor fitness, poor footwear and poor playing surfaces are also factors that can increase the risk of injury.
Treatment of knee pain:
There is good evidence to suggest that many ACL injuries can return to sport and high function without the need for surgery. More research continues to emerge showing a good strength and conditioning program combined with proprioception, agility, landing, cutting and change of direction training can help reduce the need for surgery. This doesn’t apply to all cases but is always worth a chat and assessment with one of our physiotherapists. Often conservative management means you aren’t out of sport for as long and can remain safe when you return.
There are many types of surgery that are used to reconstruct the ACL injury with the 2 most common involving a patella tendon graft (PTG) or semitendinosus graft (STG) which is using the knee tendon or hamstring tendon respectively.
The time frames for return to sport are varied depending on the surgeon and each case but generally the surgeons prefer to use a time frame between 10-12 months. Physiotherapy after surgery is extremely important and needs to be guided to achieve the best outcome possible.
Body Logic have well structured rehab programs that use similar principles as the West Coast Eagles Football Club in the rehabilitation of Nic Naitanui from his ACL injury.