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Knee Ligament Injuries Are Common and Sudden

How can such a small part of the body cause SO much pain?! Did you know that a tear to the 1-2 inch ACL is one of the most common knee ligament injuries? Called “a torn ACL” (Anterior Cruciate Ligament), this small ligament is found beneath the knee cap. When torn, it is extremely painful and often requires medical assistance including surgery.

A knee ligament injury will often show up when people are involved in a sport of some kind, in fact athletes are famous for being stricken by a torn ACL – one of the more serious forms of knee ligament injury. Knee ligament injuries can also occur in accidents in the home. Even kids horsing around the wrong way can end up with knee ligament injuries like a torn ACL.

Football, basketball, tennis, volleyball and soccer are the most common sports where these injuries happen and there are two primary reasons for this:

• Firstly, these sports involve accelerating, then rapidly decelerating with constant and quick changes in direction. This is often referred to as “cutting”.

• Secondly, all these sports involve jumping. What goes up must come down…but unfortunately not always in a straight line! Every time an athlete jumps, he or she risks landing awkwardly, twisting, turning, or wrenching the knee. The end result of this kind of landing is often the dreaded torn ACL. Athletes often invite knee ligament injuries by jumping then landing flat on their heels — and it is at that point a knee ligament injury can also happen, at lightning speed.

Injuries to a knee ligament or ACL are sudden and acute. They can hurt immediately. You may hear a loud pop and find yourself in instant and intense pain. Walking may range from very painful to impossible, and if you’re suffering from a torn ACL you may also have difficulty straightening the leg; may have poor balance; and/or the injured knee may begin to swell quickly. It is important to identify a torn ACL as soon as possible, and to discontinue the activity you were in the middle of when you hurt yourself.

An untreated ACL injury may have long term ramifications. These include, but are not limited to, ongoing pain in the knee, an inability to return to athletic activities, osteoarthritis, and long term swelling and/or stiffness.

There is no rushing the healing of a knee ligament injury such as a torn ACL. Any way you cut it, time is needed. Healing may also involve therapy along with custom knee bracing, along with physiotherapy. The recovery time may possibly take 6 months to a year; however, this recovery period can be reduced through an advanced treatment program at a sports medicine facility.

A good sports medicine treatment facility should be able to design your treatment and rehabilitation plan with consideration of your lifestyle and goals. You may also be fitted with custom equipment such as knee bracing and also taught special exercises that you can do at home to minimize recovery time. The staff may also help you to develop an ongoing plan to prevent a similar injury from happening in the future. Hooray!

Consider regular neuromuscular training which can reduce and even prevent non-contact ACL injuries. This training is designed to enhance proprioception, balance, muscle strength and proper movement patterns.

If you have suffered a knee ligament injury such as a torn ACL, if you would like to learn about programs to prevent an ACL injury or would simply like more information about treatment options, please call 416-800-0800 or visit www.aesm.ca

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