By: Dr. Geraldo Herrera, Orthopedics

One of the most common knee injuries is the anterior cruciate ligament tear or sprain. ACL occurs during sports that involve sudden stops or changes in direction. ACL injury may cause life-long complications, including osteoarthritis.

What’s an ACL?

The anterior cruciate ligament is one of the major points of the knee which connects the thigh and shin bone. It helps stabilize your knee joint.

Most ACL injuries happen during sports and fitness activities that can put the stress on the knee. People who tear their ACL may feel a pop in the knee and may cause swelling.  

Treatment  prompt care can reduce pain and swelling immediately after an injury to your knee. Follow the R.I.C.E. model of self-care at home:

  1. Rest. General rest is necessary for healing and limits weight bearing on your knee.
  2. Ice. When you’re awake, try to place ice on your knee at least every two hours for 20 minutes at a time.
  3. Compression. Wrap an elastic bandage or compression wrap around your knee.
  4. Elevation. Lie down with your knee propped up on pillows.

Rehabilitation

The goal of rehabilitation is to reduce pain and swelling, restore your knees full range of motion, and strengthen muscles. This course of physical therapy may successfully treat an ACL injury for individuals who are relatively inactive, engage in moderate exercise and recreational activities, or play sports that put less stress on the knees.

Surgery

Your doctor may recommend surgery if:

  • You’re an athlete and want to continue in your sport, especially if the sport involves jumping, cutting or pivoting
  • More than one ligament or the cartilage in your knee is injured
  • You’re young and active
  • The injury is causing your knee to buckle during everyday activities

Is there any preventive measures to reduce osteoarthritis?

It’s vital to take precautionary actions after an ACL injury to reduce the onset of osteoarthritis. Exercise therapy is an excellent measure to reduce Osteoarthritis in people who had reconstructive surgery.

It’s recommended for recovering patients to perform low impact exercises to lessen the wear and tear to the affected knee. These include swimming and upper body strength training to allow the injury to heal.

Proper training and exercise can help lessen the risk of ACL injury in the first place. It’s recommended to exercise regularly to strengthen hamstrings, hips, and lower abdomen.

People with an active lifestyle need to train and exercise proper techniques and knee position in jumping and landing. In addition, wear footwear and padding that is appropriate for your sport to prevent injuries.

These preventive measures are all helpful in case of knee injuries. However, keep in mind to immediately seek help from medical personnel after performing first aid. ManilaMed is a hospital located at the heart of Metro Manila. They have an emergency contact number that you can call if in case of emergencies: 523-8131 loc. 2057-58. For more details, visit www.manilamed.com.ph.