The knee is composed of four ligaments namely the medial collateral (MCL), lateral collateral (LCL), anterior cruciate (ACL) and posterior cruciate (PCL) ligaments. Of which the anterior cruciate ligament is more commonly susceptible to damage. This damage is due to the tearing of the ligament owing to over-stretching.
ACL is made of two pieces. Sometimes injury occurs to one of the section only , or at times to both the sections. If the injury occurs to only one of the section, it is called partial ACL tear and if both the sections of the ligament are affected , it is called the complete ACL tear.
What can be the cause for ACL tear ?
The main cause of an ACL tear is hyper-extension of the knee than the normal limits. These tears are usually associated with sports. It can be occurred by the non-contact of another person, that is without being hit by another person during the sport. Some of them are caused while landing from a jump or tackling a football.These tears or injuries are commonly associated with sports people who play games such as rugby, football , wrestling and martial arts.
What are the signs of an ACL tear?
The affected patients experience severe pain in the knee. A popping sound is heard or experienced at the time of the injury. Knee swelling is seen within few hours after the injury. Movement of the knee is restricted due to the chronic pain or the swelling.If the injury is left untreated, the condition worsens and the patient feels like the ‘knee giving out”.
How to diagnose an ACL tear?
Many diagnostic tests are performed for the analysis of an ACLtear. They are lachman test, pivot- shift test and anterior drawer test. Of these, the lachman test the most reliable test for the detection of an ACL tear. MRI is the most suited option for the detection and analysis of the ACLtear. It can clearly detect the bruising of the bones in the knee, which is resulted from an ACL injury. MRI not only detects the ACL tear, but it can also detect the damage to the surrounding other three ligaments and cartilages or other meniscus injuries that are associated with the ACL injury.
How to treat an ACL tear?
Some of the treatment for an ACL tear are the conservative methods such as the physical therapy and the usage of braces for the affected knee. Exercises are the other methods considered to regain the motion and strengthen the muscles. But the conservative methods of treatments are benefited only to the patients who are less actively involved in sports or other weight bearing activities or activities such as running.
As far the active patients are concerned, surgical treatments are available that may help them regain all of their activities associated with sports. Arthroscopic surgery of the knee is one of the option, which helps in the recovery from ACL injury. ACL reconstruction can be another option. Recovery period can range from a period of six to nine months, for the patient to regain the full mobility of the knee.This can be achieved with routine physical exercise to strengthen the muscles.