The Anterior Cruciate Ligament (ACL) is one among the main four ligaments at the knee joint. ACL is the primary stabiliser ( mainly during rotatory movements) of the knee and is very crucial to an athlete. Since ACL can acquire sprains to complete tears, and it being the most common injury among the football players, I plan to write about ACL injuries, its prevention and an overview of its management in this article.
ACL injuries are mainly occurred while a player is running and suddenly rotates the knee that’s in contact with the ground or when a player is tackled from behind, as a result the knee buckles damaging the ACL. If the knee keeps buckling every time, it can damage the cartilage leading to arthritis of the knee joint. Some players are at risk of ACL injury due to the anatomical variations of the bony structures. ACL is present between the femur (thigh bone) and the tibia (shin bone). If this space between the two bones are very narrow, then the ACL cannot properly act during rotatory movements.
Taking a preventive measure is very important in everything. Likewise, there are numerous programmes designed to prevent players from getting an ACL injury which improves neuromuscular control during standing, cutting, jumping and landing. A proper programme should include warmups, stretching, strengthening, plyometrics, agility and balance training.
ACL injuries can easily be diagnosed by an orthopaedician and a physiotherapist. Clinical examination and medical history is sufﬁcient most of the times but at times an MRI is required to conﬁrm the diagnosis. Depending on the extent of the injury, the doctor will decide if you will require a reconstruction surgery or not. During the surgery, the ACL ligament is substituted with a tendon, either patella tendon or hamstring tendon. Since we have qualiﬁed doctors, surgeries are possible at our hospitals as well.
The most important part of an ACL injury is the rehabilitation after surgery. The main goal of the rehabilitation is to return to the ﬁeld within six months post surgery. It is recommended to start with isometric exercise from day one of the surgery and continue strengthening and rehabilitation programmes up to six months. We are very lucky to have a well established rehabilitation programme at IGMH with qualiﬁed physiotherapists.
By the way, how are your ankles feeling readers? I haven’t seen or met a single athlete who hasn’t twisted or sprained their ankles. It’s such a common injury but stay tuned to my next blog on ankles. Tighten up those ankles guys!