ACL stands for the anterior cruciate ligament. The ACL is one of the four main stability ligaments of the knee, which helps to prevent excessive movement in the knee joint. An injury to the ACL is one of the most debilitating knee ligament injuries. The majority of ACL injuries are sport related, and occur in sports that involve pivoting or sudden turns, and the injury occurs when you pivot your knee or land from a jump. Examples of sports that have a higher occurrence of ACL injuries include soccer, football, basketball, hockey and tennis. Individuals with ACL injuries are often able to perform their regular daily activities, but have difficulty participating in sports, and often require surgical repair to return to their sport.
Physiotherapy can help manage ACL injuries, and not everyone with an ACL injury will require surgical repair. The decision to have a surgical repair of an ACL injury will depend on factors such as the severity of the injury, your age, if you experience instability in your knee, and what sports or activities you wish to return to. Even if you are a surgical candidate, seeing a physiotherapist can benefit your ACL injury, to help reduce your pain and swelling, and to increase your mobility and strength. The stronger and more mobile you are prior to surgery, the easier the recovery post-surgery.
A Physiotherapist will take a detailed history and complete a comprehensive assessment, to determine the severity of your injury. If you have not had one already, your physiotherapist may refer you to your doctor for diagnostic imaging, which is typically done with an MRI. With the information gathered from the assessment, the physiotherapist will develop an individualized treatment plan to treat your ACL injury. Based on your assessment and your symptoms, your individualized treatment plan may include:
- Manual therapy techniques such as soft tissue release, mobilization or manipulation
- An individualized exercise program including range of motion exercises, muscle strengthening and stretching. As you improve, the physiotherapist will progress your exercises to make them more functional to help you reach your goals.
- Education on activity modification, and return to sport
- A knee brace may be recommended
- Modalities such as acupuncture, TENS, ultrasound, heat or ice
Individuals who have sustained an ACL injury, typically feel or hear a pop in their knee, followed by their knee giving out. ACL injuries often cause significant knee swelling and pain.
Contact Berry Physiotherapy for your next appointment.