Anterior cruciate ligament injuries

Anterior Cruciate Ligament

Often with knee injuries, the Anterior Cruciate Ligament (ACL) which is one of the main knee ligaments becomes damaged or torn. In fact, this is quite common. Each year, about 300 0001 people worldwide undergo surgery to repair a damaged ACL. The injury is common among athletes, and it can also occur in the workplace in jobs that require physical activity. Women are more susceptible to such injuries than are men. Studies2 have shown that the reason for this may be that in sports, women tend to hold their upper bodies and hips in a more erect posture while performing running and jumping actions.

When an ACL injury occurs, the knee becomes less stable. Such instability will make sudden turning movements difficult. This type of damage to the knee may also make you more likely to developing arthritis and cartilage tears. While you may still enjoy daily activities with little discomfort, activities which require sudden twisting or turning, may prove difficult. The symptoms of an ACL injury may include a sudden giving way of the knee (this is when the knee suddenly 'gives out', causing one to stumble or fall), a "pop" at the time of the injury, or a sudden swelling of the knee joint and pain in the knee when walking.

An ACL injury may be treated without surgery through rehabilitation and bracing. This is mainly effective for people who do not participate in twisting or turning activities or who are willing to give up high-risk sports and focus on low-impact activities like cycling and swimming. Although such a change may limit your ability to particiapte in the sports and activities you enjoy, it also reduces your chances for further injuries. A custom-made brace may also ease the pain associated with an ACL injury.

If the football field, tennis court, or ski slopes continue to tempt you after you've suffered an ACL injury, arthroscopic surgery may provide the best treatment option to restore your active lifestyle.

1-2Files held at Smith & Nephew Head Office.