Anterior Cruciate Injury │ ACL Tear

ACL tears are fairly common in sports and fitness arenas. Swift changes in direction, pivoting, jumping, and collision can lead to tears.  Anterior Cruciate Injury symptoms may include extreme knee pain, tenderness, inability to bear full weight, and limited mobility in the affected joint. Due to this, patients have trouble practicing sports, engaging in physical activities, and other tasks.

Specialized Physical Therapy uses an individualized approach to start the knee restoration and rehabilitation process.  

Overview: Anterior Cruciate Injury  

The anterior cruciate ligament crosses the middle of the leg bones. It’s located within the knee and connects the femur and tibia. Its presence provides stability and optimal range of motion.  An ACL injury can occur during sports activities and fitness routines. They occur when a sudden movement or collision causes excessive stress on the ligament, leading it to tear.  Usually the leg is planted when a lateral, or outside force is applied to the knee resulting in significant stress on the ACL.

Leading ACL tear symptoms include intense knee pain, difficulty in movement, tenderness, and swelling. Reduced range of motion can have debilitating effects on your quality of life. 

In these cases, physical therapy can accelerate torn ACL recovery time by facilitating the natural healing process.

Symptoms

Torn ACL symptoms include the following:

  • Severe knee pain
  • Swelling and tenderness in the affected area
  • Reduced mobility in the affected knee
  • Knees might ‘give away’ when you stand
  • Knee movements lead to a popping sensation/sound
  • Fatigue and poor strength
  • Difficulty in walking

Patients with torn ACL’s are more likely to develop osteoarthritis due to the worn out ligaments if surgery is not performed or the instability worsens without proper physical therapy.

Causes

Common causes and risk factors for an Anterior Cruciate Injury includes:

  • Gender: Females are more prone to experiencing ACL tears than males due to lower hip muscle strength, a greater pelvic angle, and limited endurance in the trunk musculature
  • Cutting (i.e. when you change directions)
  • Pivoting incorrectly
  • When you abruptly stop or slow down
  • Collisions or direct knee trauma
  • Undue strain placed on knees when you land awkwardly on your feet 
  • Wearing uncomfortable/improper footwear for sports and other physical activities
  • High-risk contact sports (i.e. football, basketball, skiing and gymnastics)
  • Playing on an artificial turf
  • Lack of coordination
  • Using worn-out sports equipment

In short, any risky or sudden movement that places extra pressure on the affected knee.

Diagnosis

Our physical therapists will review your medical history during the first appointment. It’s followed by a series of questions regarding your anterior cruciate injury tear symptoms and pain patterns. We discuss how the injury occurred and how it affects everyday movements.

You will perform a series of tasks (i.e. walking, standing, and climbing stairs). We observe your movements to assess the current level of functioning, stability, and strength.  All these details allow us to rule out other causes of knee injuries.  After that, we create a personalized physical therapy plan to restore flexibility and alleviate knee pain.

Treatment

Our rehabilitation programs are suitable for non-surgical treatment and post-surgery therapy. They include at-home exercises and onsite support focused on restoring the prior level of functioning and muscle strength. Each technique and exercise routine gets chosen according to your lifestyle and mobility goals.  Typical therapy sessions involve manual massages and mobilizations. At home, you’ll be asked to do some stretches and muscle strengthening exercises.

Athletes undergo extra exercise sessions and training to prevent torn ACL injuries when they return to the field. During this period, you’ll learn jumping and landing techniques to mitigate potential risks. We might recommend proper footwear and equipment options if required.  Utilizing the NEUBIE to accelerate strengthening while performing dynamic movements may also be considered.

Either way, strengthening of the lower extremity, especially the hip musculature are imperative for preventing another injury or even re-tearing the ACL. If you have more questions concerning your ACL injury, don’t hesitate to call 201-773-8851 or contact us here for further inquiries and online booking.

Request a free consultation or give us a call to get started!