ACL (Anterior Cruciate Ligament) Injuries --
Continued from Yesterday
How long you have problems depends on the severity of your injury, your rehabilitation program and the types of sports you play. In most cases, full recovery takes 4 to 12 months.
To help prevent sports-related knee injures, you can:
Warm up and stretch before you participate in athletic activities.
Strengthen the muscles around the knee through an exercise program.
Avoid sudden increases in the intensity of your training program. Never push yourself too hard, too fast. Increase your intensity gradually.
Wear comfortable, supportive shoes that fit your feet and fit your sport. If you have problems in foot alignment that might increase your risk of a twisted knee, ask your doctor about shoe inserts that can correct the problem.
If you play football, ask your sports-medicine doctor or athletic trainer about specific types of shoe cleats that may help to reduce your risk of knee injuries.
If you ski, use two-mode release bindings that are installed and adjusted properly. Make sure that the binding mechanism is in good working order and that your boots and binding are compatible.
For Grade I and Grade II ACL sprains, initial treatment follows the RICE rule:
Rest the joint
Ice the injured area to reduce swelling
Compress the swelling with an elastic bandage
Elevate the injured area
Your doctor also may suggest that you wear a knee brace, and that you take a nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug, such as ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin and others), to relieve pain and ease swelling. As your knee pain gradually subsides, the doctor will have you start a rehabilitation program to strengthen the muscles around your knee. This rehabilitation should help to stabilize your knee joint and prevent it from being injured again.
Treatment depends on your activity level. Surgery may be used for those needing to return to sports that involve pivoting and jumping. Initially, Grade III injuries are also treated with RICE, bracing and rehabilitation. Once swelling subsides, the torn ACL may be reconstructed surgically using either a piece of your own tissue (autograft) or a piece of donor tissue (allograft). When an autograft is done, the surgeon usually replaces your torn ACL with a portion of your own patellar tendon (tendon below the kneecap) or a section of tendon taken from a large leg muscle. Currently, almost all knee reconstructions are done using arthroscopic surgery, which uses smaller incisions and causes less scarring than traditional open surgery.