ACL tears are an athlete’s worst nightmare. Here is a quick guide to understanding what they are and how to deal with them:
What is an ACL Tear?
ACL stands for anterior cruciate ligament, a band of fibrous tissue that connects your femur and tibia at the knee joint. A tear is typically caused when an athlete makes a sudden twisting motion in the knee when they step or land on the foot. Symptoms include a popping sound, followed by the inability to put weight on the leg and swelling.
How Can I Prevent an ACL Tear?
An ACL tear is hard to predict, but warming up and stretching before working out and learning to land on the balls of your feet instead of landing flat-footed can help. Doing strength training exercises to make the muscles around the knees firmer can also help prevent an ACL tear.
How is an ACL Tear Diagnosed?
There are a few ways to diagnose an ACL tear, but the most accurate way to detect a tear is with an MRI. A partial tear can be detected by arthroscopy, which is when a surgeon makes an incision and uses a tiny lens to view the ACL.
How is an ACL Tear Treated?
If you tear your ACL, you will need surgery to repair it. Afterward, you will undergo physical therapy, which can usually take from six months to a year.