Jamaal Charles made a hard cut during his game this past weekend. Most who saw the play knew immediately that his injury was serious. There are between 80,000 and 100,000 ACL repair surgeries each year in the US. Most ACL tears are happen without contact, and women are nine times more likely than men to tear their ACL.
The knee joint is prone to injury because it is primarily stabilized by four ligaments each preventing movement in a different direction. The ACL, or Anterior Cruciate Ligament, is the primary restraint to anterior translation of the tibia, as well as tibial internal rotation. This ligament is often injured with rotational forces, which is why contact is not necessary (accounts for 70% of ACL injuries) as long as the mechanism involves rotation without adequate support from surrounding musculature at the knee joint.
The first sign of an ACL tear is a popping sound followed by immediate pain and swelling of the knee. Those who suspect an ACL tear, or any other significant knee injury, should be referred to an orthopedic surgeon as soon as possible. Depending on the severity of the tear, partial or full, and the activity level desired by the injured person, surgery may be necessary.
Physical therapy will be necessary in either situation. The physical therapy prior to surgery will focus on strengthening the hip and core muscles in preparation for an extended recovery time following surgery. While tearing your ACL is a serious injury that will take 6-12 months to fully recover, many people find success at the end of their journey and return to their previous level of activity.
See the attached article for more details on ACL injury mechanisms of injury, treatment options, and prevention measures: ACL Injuries
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