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.
Myths about ACL injury:
✖ If I have torn my ACL I need to have surgery
✖ I need to wait at least 12 months before I can return to sport after ACL surgery
✖ I should rest my knee for 4-6 weeks after surgery before I start my rehab.
✖ I don’t need rehab after my ACL repair- If I just give it a year I should be OK.
Facts about ACL injury:
✔ If you have an ACL tear your confidence in your knee is the best predictor of outcome.
✔ Many ACL ruptures don’t require surgery if they are rehabilitated well.
✔ Returning to sport is based on your strength, agility, function (and type of graft if you’ve had surgery).
✔ Resting your knee for too long will reduce your muscle strength and put more pressure on the knee joint.
How can BodyLogic Physiotherapy help you?
✔ We can help diagnose your knee injury.
✔ We can advise you regarding what’s the best treatment for your knee following an ACL tear.
✔ We will communicate with your Surgeon (if surgery required) and work out the best time frames for you to get back to sport.
✔ We can develop an exercise program that is specific to YOU
✔ We can perform a return to sport test to make sure you are safe and confident before getting back to competition.
✔ We are always available to answer important questions you have about your knee and your rehab plan.