The ACL’s correct anatomical name is the Anterior Cruciate Ligament. It’s main purpose is to stop the tibia (shin bone) shifting forward from the femur (the thigh bone). It creates a huge amount of stability when the knee goes into flexion (bends forwards) and it is little wonder that this ligament gets injured in so many people when most of the movement we do at the knee involves going forwards into flexion.
ACL injuries are usually graded into three categories;
Our Approach to Care
A minor strain or tear
A more serious tear but the ligament has intact fibres still
Complete rupture (all fibres are detached and the ligament offers no structural stability)
Although Grade III injuries are not very common, when they do happen they can be life changing. Some people do not return to pre-injury activity levels and some may find permanent changes to things such as their gait pattern (walking and running) or general function of the leg.
Most Grade III ACL injuries are treated with surgery. Surgery usually involves part of the hamstring muscle or, in rarer cases, some of the quadriceps muscle being used as a graft. Once the ligament has been repaired a thorough and robust rehabilitation programme must take place to ensure the ligament restores as much strength and function as it did prior to injury.
In some cases, patients who rupture their ACL can manage everyday tasks without opting for surgery. It is all dependent on what the patient hopes to achieve. With any surgery there are risks associated. One of the risks associated with any surgical treatment is the increased risk of arthritis. This is something that needs to be considered before undertaking any surgical intervention, regardless of the area to be treated.
MCL + LCL
These ligaments can be found on the sides of the knee and help prevent twisting and sideways bending of the knee. They are often damaged in traumatic situations such as poor tackles in football, or from landing awkwardly from a jump. Unfortunately, the Meniscus of the knee is often injured at the same time and these injuries can be time consuming in their repair. Conservative rehabilitation is often the best route of treatment and it is vital to ensure the strength and integrity of the knee is restored before undertaking full participation in activity again. Speak with your healthcare provider and have them sort a rehabilitation programme for you to achieve this.