Knee injuries are one of the most frequently injured joints in the body, especially in the athletic population. One of the most common knee injuries is an injury to the Anterior Cruciate Ligament (ACL). Early intervention after an ACL injury or tear with physiotherapy treatment, exercise and a thorough return to sport protocol is imperative for your recovery.
In this post, we’ll explain why it’s important to understand what grade of ACL sprain you have, and how our team at All About Kids Rehabilitation Centre can help you!
What is the ACL ligament?
The Anterior Cruciate Ligament (ACL) is located on the inside of the knee and connects the femur (thigh bone) to the tibia (shin bone). The primary job of the ACL is to prevent forward translation of the femur on the tibia and limit rotational forces. It is considered the key stabilizer within the knee joint by providing joint awareness (i.e. proprioception).
ACL tears are common in young, active individuals (especially females) who play high impact sports involving a rotatory component, such as soccer or basketball. At All About Kids Rehabilitation Centre, we treat numerous active individuals and athletes of all ages. A typical mechanism of injury of an ACL tear is a “plant and twist” movement, where the athlete will turn in the opposite direction while their foot is planted down on the ground. This action places excessive load on the ACL and can result in a partial or full rupture. Other mechanisms of injury include a kick to the back of the leg, a fall on the knee or hyperextension of the knee.
What are the Signs of an ACL Injury?
As mentioned above, ACL injuries are common in young athletes involved in sports with a rotational component. This means any maneuvers that require twisting, rotations, cutting or jumping.
Some common signs of an ACL include:
- Immediate pain and swelling around the knee
- Pain along the posterolateral aspect of the knee
- An audible ‘pop’ at the time of injury
- Unable to walk off the field following the injury
- Feelings of giving way when trying to walk
- Unable to fully straighten the knee
Who is More at Risk of an ACL Tear?
There are certain populations who tend to be more vulnerable to an ACL tear than others. More often than not, ACL tears occur in young, active females involved in sports with a rotational component. Females tend to have broader hips than males, and as a result, have a larger Q angle – the angle formed between the quad muscles and the patellar tendon below the knee joint. The significance of this is that the larger the Q angle, the more stress and force imbalances are placed at the knee, making it more vulnerable to tearing of the ACL.
Moreover, muscle imbalances occurring along the quadriceps can also make individuals more at risk of an ACL tear. It is fairly common for individuals to have stronger outer muscles of the quads and weaker inner muscles of the quads, which can result in excessive forces that occur within the knee joint. This can cause what is known as a dynamic valgus – the alignment of the knee where the femur moves inward relative to the joint.
If you have any questions, concerns, or want to know more about whether you are at risk or not, feel free to call, email, or stop in at All About Kids Rehabilitation Centre. Our team would be happy to help you!
Treatment Strategies Following an ACL Tear
Physiotherapy plays an integral role in returning to sport after an ACL tear, whether you have undergone a surgery or not. Depending on your stage of injury, our physiotherapists at All About Kids Rehabilitation Centre would work on pain management techniques, improving range of motion and strengthening, and then undergoing a comprehensive return to play protocol that involves sport specific drills and activities to ensure you are ready to play. Most importantly, proper physiotherapy care can help to prevent reinjury of the ACL by ensuring you are utilizing appropriate movement patterns and improving any muscle imbalances that may have led to the tear in the first place.
Acute Injury Treatment
- Ice, compression, elevation of the injured knee
- Use of crutches for the first 24-72 hours following the injury to limit weight bearing
Sub-Acute Injury Treatment
- Early mobilization without use of crutches to start putting weight through knee
- Increase overall range of motion, as knee movements are typically limited especially with extension (i.e. straightening the knee)
- Increase strength of quads and glutes to offload the knee joint
- Reducing rotational forces through the knee
- Balance and proprioception exercises
Return to Sport
- Sport specific drills in clinic – cutting, jumping, rotations
- Attending and participating in team practices
- Playing in a scrimmage with teammates prior to playing an actual game
- It is important that the athlete manages their symptoms and not play through any pain or unusual swelling
Check out this video about ACL Injuries!
If you suspect that you have sustained an ACL tear, do not hesitate to seek our physiotherapists at All About Kids Rehabilitation Centre. Our team will come up with a tailored care plan for you so that you can get back to doing what you love!
Feel free to stop in to our other location, All About Physiotherapy Performance Centre at
Unit 1-577 Burnhamthorpe Rd, Etobicoke, ON, M9C 2Y3
Or give us a call at 647-598-2201.
Or fill out our inquiry form on our website for further information.
Feel free to stop in at All About Kids Rehabilitation Centre at
155 Queen St E, Mississauga, ON, L5G 3L9
Or give us a call at 647-598-5725
Or fill out our inquiry form on our website or further information.
We would be happy to help you get back to feeling great!
Bridging the Gap Program!
Our Bridging the Gap Program at All About Physiotherapy Performance Centre and All About Kids Rehabilitation Program is an individualized physiotherapy program designed by clinicians experienced in paediatrics, neuro, and orthopedics to support your movement goals.
It is for teens and young adults with neurological conditions transitioning from their paediatric clinic into a more mature setting surrounded by individuals on a similar path to becoming more autonomous and responsible for their own health.
To learn more about our program, give us a call at 647-598-2201 or stop in at All About Physiotherapy Performance Centre at 1-577 Burnhamthorpe Rd, Etobicoke, ON, M9C 2Y3.