Knee injuries can occur during sports such as skiing, tennis, football, netball and rugby. ACL injuries are one of the most common types of knee injuries, accounting for around 40% of all sporting injuries
The ACL is one of the four main ligaments within the knee that connect the femur to the tibia. The ACL runs diagonally in the middle of the knee, preventing the tibia from sliding out in front of the femur, as well as providing rotational stability to the knee.
It is estimated that 70% of ACL injuries occur through non-contact mechanisms while 30% result from direct contact with another player or object
Approximately 50% of ACL injuries occur in combination with damage to the meniscus, articular cartilage, or other ligaments.
Deciding to have surgery
The decision to have knee surgery will depend on the extent of damage to your ACL and whether it’s affecting your quality of life.
If your knee doesn’t feel unstable and you don’t have an active lifestyle, you may decide not to have ACL surgery. However, be aware that delaying surgery could cause further damage to your knee.
In nonsurgical treatment, gradual physical therapy, rehabilitation and Massage can re-condition the knee to a condition close to its pre-injury abilities.
A torn ACL is replaced by a substitute graft made of tendon. The grafts commonly used to replace the ACL include:
- Patellar tendon
- Hamstring tendon
- Quadriceps tendon
- Allograft (taken from a cadaver)
The goal of the ACL reconstruction surgery is to prevent instability and restore the function of the torn ligament, creating a stable knee, allowing patients to return to sports.
Physical therapy is a vital part of successful ACL surgery, with exercises beginning immediately post surgery.
Rehabilitation goals of an ACL reconstruction include decreasing knee swelling, regaining full ROM of the knee, alongside strengthening the quadriceps and hamstring muscles.
Massage is an integral part of the rehabilitation process and will assist with helping to restore full range of movement of the knee, reducing swelling and pain.