In the rise to success, a young athlete’s body is put through a lot. Suffering an injury at the peak of their performance can put a temporary halt to that success and potentially derail future plans, depending on the severity of the injury. One type of injury that has been found to cause more trouble in young female athletes is injury to the anterior cruciate ligament (ACL). There are many theories as to why females are more prone to ACL injuries as opposed to males, suggesting it may have to do with a difference in anatomy, hormones, and even evidence that males and females simply run and jump differently, leading to a prevalence of these injuries.
These injuries can happen in almost any sport and are usually the result of a quick pivot, a sudden stop, or an awkward landing. When that “pop” happens and you feel pain, swelling, and instability, there’s a good chance the ACL is involved. And once the ACL is involved, a sports medicine professional should also be involved.
There are two main bones that bear weight in the knee – the femur and the tibia. The ACL is a ligament that helps keep those bones in alignment. When a tear happens, the bones are at risk for moving out of place. It may feel like your knee is giving out when you attempt to walk on it. A thorough exam from an orthopedic specialist can diagnose an ACL tear, and you may also receive an MRI exam to look at the soft tissues in the area for additional injuries.
Treatment for an ACL injury can vary greatly depending on the severity of the tear, the patient’s age, and the patient’s activity level. For a sprain or mild tear, a patient can usually proceed with rehab and modified activity levels to restore the knee to pre-injury condition. For a full tear, surgical reconstruction is typically on the agenda in order to reduce further damage to the knee.
Mid-Tennessee Bone and Joint is one of the very few therapy clinics in the entire Middle Tennessee area to offer aquatic therapy with a HydroWorx pool. Aquatic therapy is extremely beneficial after ACL reconstruction as rehab can begin much sooner due to the low impact workout that water provides. The underwater treadmill improves range of motion and takes pressure off of the joints, allowing the patient to build strength easier. We are proud to offer this service to our therapy patients to improve their surgical outcomes.
According to the American Orthopedic Society for Sports Medicine, about 150,000 ACL injuries occur in the United States every year. These injuries require extensive rehabilitation and often surgical reconstruction. Our group is working together to keep more student athletes healthy and on the field.