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Why the Frequency of ACL Injuries are on the Rise

“Bellamy Knee Injury” by joncandy is licensed with CC BY-SA 2.0.

Over the past month, our physical therapy clinic in Bethesda has seen an increase in the number of people recovering from ACL injuries and repairs. Although this is a sign that sports are returning to normal, there are some important things to keep in mind when dealing with an ACL injury.

The ACL, also known as the Anterior Cruciate Ligament, is the tissue found in the knee joint that connects the thighbone (femur) to the shinbone (tibia). These ligaments run diagonally in the middle of the knee, controlling the back and forth motion and provide rotational stability.

ACL injuries commonly occur in sports involving sudden movements or changes of direction, such as soccer, football, or basketball. The anterior cruciate ligament can be injured in several ways, including:

  • Rapid changes in direction
  • Sudden stopping movements
  • Slowing down while running
  • Incorrect landing from jumping
  • Direct collision or contact, such as a tackle in football.

Depending on the severity of the ACL injury, treatment can include rest and rehabilitation exercises to regain stability and strength. In severe cases, surgery may be required to replace the torn ligament.

According to Mike Reinold, a leading physical therapist, there are a few important steps to take after surgery:

  • Diminish pain and swelling after surgery using compression wraps, ice, and compression machines.
  • Restore full knee extension through a variety of range of motion and stretching exercises.
  • Gradually improve knee flexion with further stretching and functional movements such as mini-squats and lunges.
  • Maintain patellar mobility with soft tissue mobilization around the knee.
  • Restore volitional quad control using neuromuscular electrical stimulation (NMES) on the quad following the ACL surgery.
  • Restore independent ambulation by improving the ability to walk without limitations or a limp.

Although ACL injuries are impossible to avoid, a proper training program can help to reduce the risk of an ACL injury. If an injury does occur, our performance training and physical therapy clinic in Bethesda will get you back to normal in no time!