Anterior Cruciate Ligament Rupture

The anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) is in the middle of the knee and provides the knee with stability by preventing forward movement of the shin bone (tibia) under the thigh bone (femur) and resists rotation of the femur on the tibia. The ACL contains lots of nerves and so aids balance.

How is it injured?

Mainly due to a rotational stress like sudden change of direction, or hyperextension (over-straightening of the knee). This happens mostly when the foot is fixed either with football boots' studs in the ground or by a caught ski. It can be stretched, partially torn or completely ruptured. These injuries will result in instability around the knee.

How do I know if I've damaged my ACL?

  • It hurts!
  • Immediate swelling
  • Possibly bruising (the ACL has a good blood supply)
  • Instability especially in a complete rupture
  • What should I do?
  • RICE
  • Seek medical help - this can diagnose a complete tear or a partial tear, also if there is any other damage to structures of the knee.

Will it repair?

  • No, sometimes it will attach itself to another the ligament (the posterior cruciate) but this is unusual

What are my options?

  • Seek advice from your physiotherapist and orthopaedic surgeon, some people do not need surgery and can manage with good muscle strength and balance. However, most people would benefit from reconstructive surgery.
  • Most orthopaedic surgeons recommend surgery takes place around 2 -3 months after the accident, to allow the swelling to reduce and the balance etc to recover.
  • Surgery consists of using either a hamstring tendon or part of the patella tendon to create a new ACL

How long will it take to rehabilitate from the surgery?

  • Generally up to 9 months or a year, depending on your age, sex, fitness prior to the surgery, how diligent you are with your exercises and the extent of any other damage to your other ligaments and cartilage.

How important is physiotherapy?

Vital! I had an ACL rupture myself in 2005, had the surgery and rehabilitated myself. I know how important (and how much time!) is needed to get a good result. At Nutfield Priory, there is an excellent gym and exercise areas to do the rehabilitation effectively.

Will I be able to return to full contact sport and skiing after surgery?

Yes, if the surgery goes well (95% success rate)

If you want to enquire about Pilates or talk to Sara Gordon directly call or text 07773 885950 or email sara.gordon@physioandpilates.co.uk

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T: 01737824457
E: sara.gordon@physioandpilates.co.uk

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