What is an ACL Tear and How Can I Prevent it?
An ACL tear is one of the most dreaded injuries for all athletes, whether professional or weekend warriors. This injury is common in sports where players often need to jump, make sudden stops or quickly change direction, such as football, soccer, basketball, downhill skiing or tennis. Female athletes are at a higher risk of an ACL injury.
What is the ACL?
The knee joint is made up of ligaments, tendons, cartilage and bone. The anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) connects your femur to your tibia and it helps maintain stability in your knee. When the ACL is damaged, the ligament might partially or completely tear. At the time an ACL is torn, you are at risk of a secondary injury because your knee will lose much of its stability.
Depending on the severity of the tear, your doctor may recommend rest and physical therapy to restore stability and strength to your knee. The good news is what was once considered a career-ending injury; a severe tear can be repaired by replacing the torn ligament. Repairing a tear is not usually recommended because the ACL will just tear again. After surgery has been performed and rehabilitation is completed, many athletes are able to return to their normal activities.
Preventing an ACL Tear
A good defense for preventing an ACL tear is to strengthen your leg muscles, especially your quadriceps and hamstrings to increase the stability in your knee. You can also prevent an ACL injury by:
- Participating in sports that don’t involve contact or twisting
- Not wearing shoes with cleats
- Avoiding wearing shoes with high heels
- Learning techniques such as landing with bent knees after jumping or crouching when you pivot or turn
If you have already experienced a tear in your ACL, you are at a higher risk for experiencing another ACL injury. It is important to follow your doctor’s advice and:
- Wear a brace if prescribed
- Complete your rehabilitation
- Continue to do your exercises to strengthen your knee
Dr. Dominguez of 3D Sports Medicine & Orthopaedic Center is experienced in treating ACL injuries. Contact our office in Indian Harbour Beach, FL for a consultation. We’ll help you get back to the activities you love.