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Anterior Cruciate Ligament (ACL) Tear Physiotherapy
An anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) tear is an injury to the knee
commonly affecting athletes, such as
- soccer/football players
- basketball players
Of course, nonathletes can also experience an ACL tear due
to injury or accident.
In just the United States alone, there is about 200,000 anterior cruciate ligament injruies diagnosed every year. 50% of them are estimated ruptures (100% tear) and 100,000 anterior cruciate ligament reconstruction operations done.
For ACL tears in sports,
- 70% are non-contact injuries
- 30% are contact injuries (player-to-player, player-to-object)
Women are more likely than men to experience an anterior cruciate ligament tear.
What our senior knee physiotherapists do is to help
individuals with ACL tears
- reduce knee pain and swelling
- regain knee strength and
- return to desired activities and lifestyle
What is an ACL Tear?
Our anterior cruciate ligament is one of the major bands of tissue (ligaments) that connects our thigh bone (femur) to our shin bone (tibia) at the knee joint. Our ACL can easily tear if you:
- Twist your knee while keeping your foot planted on the ground
- Stop suddenly while running
- Suddenly shift your weight from one leg to the other
- Jump and land on an extended (straightened) knee
- Stretch the knee farther than its usual range of movement
- Experience a direct hit to the knee
How Does an acl tear Feel like?
If you ever tear your anterior cruciate ligament of your knees (and we hope you never ever have to experience this), you may:
- feel a sharp, intense pain or hear a loud
"pop" or snap
- not be able to walk on the injured leg because
you can’t support your weight through your knee joint
- experience immediate swelling in your knee (within minutes to a few hours)
- feel that your knee "unlocks, unhinges or just gives way" when you walk or put weight on it
How Is It Diagnosed?
Immediately following an ACL injury, you may be examined by
If you see our
senior physiotherapist first, we will conduct a thorough
evaluation that includes reviewing your health history. Your physical
therapist will ask:
- What you were doing when the injury occurred.
- If you felt pain or heard a "pop" when the injury occurred.
- If you experienced swelling around the knee in the first 2 to 3 hours following the injury.
- If you felt your knee buckle or give out when you tried to get up
from a chair, walk up or down stairs, or change direction while walking.
They may perform gentle "hands-on" tests to
determine the likelihood that you have an ACL tear, and may use
additional other tests to assess possible damage to other parts of your knee.
An orthopedic surgeon may order further tests, including magnetic
resonance imaging (MRI), to confirm the diagnosis and rule out other
possible damage to the knee.
Most people who sustain an ACL tear will require to undergo surgery to repair
the ACL tear; that being said, some patients may prefer not to have knee surgery and prefer to live with their ACL their by modifying their
physical activity to relieve stress on the knee. In fact, a select group can
actually return to vigorous physical activity following rehabilitation
without having knee surgery following an anterior cruciate ligament tear..
Our senior physiotherapist, together with your surgeon, can help you
determine if nonoperative treatment (rehabilitation without surgery) is a
reasonable option for you. Of course if you do decide to have corrective ACL reconstruction surgery, our senior physiotherapist will help you prepare both for surgery and to recover your
strength and movement following surgery.
How Can our senior physioTherapist Help?
Once an ACL tear has been diagnosed, you will work with your surgeon
and our senior physiotherapist to decide if you should have surgery, or if you
can recover without surgery.
If you don’t need or want surgery, our senior physiotherapist will work with you to restore your muscle strength, agility,
and balance, so you can return to your regular activities. We may teach you ways to modify your physical activity in order
to put less stress on your knee. If you decide to have surgery our
senior physiotherapist can help you before and after the procedure.
Treatment Without Surgery
Current research has identified a specific group of patients (called
"copers") who have the potential for healing without surgery following
an ACL tear. These patients have injured only the ACL, and have
experienced no episodes of the knee "unlocking, unhinging or knee giving out" following the initial
knee ACL injury.
If you fall into this category, based on the specific tests your
physical therapist will conduct, our senior physiotherapist will design an
individualized physical therapy treatment program for you. It may
include treatments such as
- gentle electrical stimulation applied to the
- muscle strengthening
- balance training
Treatment Before Surgery
If your orthopedic surgeon determines that surgery is necessary, our
senior physiotherapist can work with you before and after your surgery.
Some surgeons refer their patients to us for a short
course of rehabilitation before surgery (increasing fitness and strength pre-surgery can improve the wound, muscle and discharge timing). We will
- decrease your swelling
- increase the range of movement of your
- strengthen your thigh muscles (quadriceps)
Treatment After Surgery
Your orthopedic surgeon will provide post-surgery instructions to us, and then we will design an individualized ACL physiotherapy treatment program
based on your specific needs and goals. Your treatment program may
Bearing weight. Following surgery, you will use
crutches to walk. The amount of weight you are allowed to put on your
leg and how long you use the crutches will depend on the type of
reconstructive surgery you have received. We will
design a treatment program to meet your needs and gently guide you
toward full weight bearing.
Icing and compression. Immediately following
surgery, we will control your swelling with a cold therapy, such as an ice sleeve, that fits around your knee and
Bracing. Some surgeons will give you a brace to
limit your knee movement (range of motion) following surgery. We will fit you with the brace and teach you how to use
it safely. Some athletes will be fitted for braces as they recover and
begin to return to their sports activities.
Movement exercises. During your first week following
surgery, we will help you begin to regain motion
in the knee area, and teach you gentle exercises you can do at home. The
focus will be on regaining full movement of your knee. The early
exercises help with increasing blood flow, which also helps reduce
Electrical stimulation. We may
use electrical stimulation to help restore your thigh muscle strength,
and help you achieve those last few degrees of knee motion.
Strengthening exercises. In the first 4 weeks after
surgery, we will help you increase your ability to
put weight on your knee, using a combination of weight-bearing and
non-weight-bearing exercises. The exercises will focus on your thigh
muscles (quadriceps and hamstrings) and might be limited to a specific
range of motion to protect the new ACL. During subsequent weeks, your
physical therapist may increase the intensity of your exercises and add
balance exercises to your program.
Balance exercises. We will
guide you through exercises on varied surfaces to help restore your
balance. Initially, the exercises will help you gently shift your weight
on to the surgery leg. These activities will progress to standing on
the surgery leg, while on firm and unsteady surfaces to challenge your
Return to sport or activities. As athletes regain
strength and balance, they may begin
other exercises specific to their individual sport
Of course, this phase varies
greatly from person-to-person. Our senior physiotherapists design
return-to-sport treatment programs to fit individual needs and goals.
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Phoenix Rehab Group works with specialist physiotherapists and rehab therapists who are highly trained, qualified, experienced and passionate to provide high level of expert care to our patients.
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At the first session, our specialist physiotherapists will carry out a thorough
assessment, helping them to select the most appropriate treatment to
help you recover as well as provide treatment in the same session.
Follow up sessions are inline to provide
expert treatment for your pain as well as prescribing specific
exercises to reduce your risk of re-injury and giving you a long term
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Jun 29, 22 08:32 AM
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