ACL Tears - An Introduction

23 September 2015

Something most sportsmen and women dread is an ACL Tear. If you feel a pop in your knee you immediately fear the worst. A serious, debilitating injury, it can put you out of action for months, but if you are sensible you can lessen the damage with proper treatment and help to prevent it happening again.

What is an ACL Tear?

The ACL (Anterior Cruciate Ligament) is a tough band of tissue connecting your thigh bone and shin bone at the knee joint. It gives stability to the knee joint and also helps control back-and-forth movement of the lower leg. The ACL can be torn if your lower leg extends forward too much, or if your knee and lower leg are twisted. If this happens, your knee can become very unstable and lose its full range of movement, making playing sports or even walking properly impossible. 

How does this happen?

ACL injuries commonly occur in sports, as they require jumping, sudden changes of direction and, in some cases, collisions. As many as 40% of all sports injuries are related to the ACL. The most probable causes include landing awkwardly from a jump, for example in a basketball game, changing direction suddenly or putting your knee in an awkward position during a collision, i.e as a result of a tackle in rugby or American football.

Treatment Options for ACL Tears

ACL tears often require surgery, depending on the severity of the tear and the activity level and lifestyle of the individual. ACL tears can be graded as:

Grade 1 - A slight stretch

Grade 2 - A partial tear

Grade 3 - A complete tear

Partial tears, however, are rare, and if you have suffered a complete tear you will most likely need surgery. Before surgery, though, it is imperative that you wait until your muscles at the front and back of your thigh are as strong as possible, and that you have the full range of movement in your knee. Physiotherapy may be needed before surgery to ensure this, and they may recommend certain stretches or low impact exercises like swimming or cycling. 

Shortly after the surgery it is a good idea to take some over-the-counter painkillers, and also to apply some ice to your knee to reduce the pain and inflammation. Surgeons or physiotherapists may recommend a cryo cuff to help with this. The Aircast Cryo Knee Cuff is one of the finest examples and can really help speed up your recovery and alleviate your discomfort.

What Other Products can Help with ACL Tears?

If you're recovering from an ACL injury and want to keep active while preventing the chance of a repeat injury, wearing a knee brace or knee support is the sensible thing to do. It is recommended that you gradually return to physical activity after the injury and for this you should try some strengthening exercises without pushing the area too hard.

Put your health first and visit the Think Sport website where there is a huge array of knee supports and braces for you to choose from.