Injuries to the ACL (anterior cruciate ligament) occur when the ligament in the knee is torn or stretched beyond its limits. It prevents the tibia (lower leg bone) from sliding out in front of the femur (thigh bone) by stabilizing it. Basketball, soccer, and football are sports that can cause ACL injuries due to sudden stops or changes in direction.
ACL injuries can cause the following symptoms:
- The knee center is particularly painful
- Angioedema of the knee
- Inability to walk or stand for long periods of time
- Instability or weakness in the knees
- The injury is accompanied by a popping sound
The most common treatment for an ACL injury is rest, ice, and physical therapy to improve the stability of the knee and strengthen the surrounding muscles. It may be necessary to perform surgery to replace or repair the damaged ligament in some cases. Injuries to the ACL can take several months or longer to heal, depending on their severity and how well they respond to treatment. To ensure a safe and complete recovery, you should follow a rehabilitation program and work with a healthcare provider or physical therapist.
As a player on the USC basketball team for six years, Jacki Gemelos suffered five ACL tears during that time. They certainly threatened to rob her of her competitive identity and any hope of continuing to play the sport. After a constant cycle of re-injury and rehab, she was tucked into such a depressive state that she began to lose her confidence as a human, leading to her being shy and closed-off in social situations. After the series of surgeries Gemelos certainly contemplated walking away from her career. But, she loved the game and knew her career wouldn’t end.
Despite her years on the court, she knows she still has a lot to learn, even after decades of experience on the court. The individual now possesses a unique combination of athleticism and knowledge, which has allowed them to prolong their careers and to continue making improvements across the board. Having the opportunity to mentor and guide younger athletes, especially through the healing process, gives her a great deal of satisfaction.
Why it Repeats
There are a number of possible causes for this problem, including:
- Too soon return to physical activity: If an individual returns too soon to their normal level of physical activity before he or she is healed completely, it is possible that the knee will become unstable and that the ACL injury will recur as a result.
- During the recovery process from a ruptured ACL, it is essential for you to undergo proper rehabilitation in order to recover to your full potential. There is a possibility that if the rehabilitation process is not followed as prescribed, the knee may not heal fully, resulting in an increased risk of re-injury.
- Irregular muscle balance around the knee can put an extra amount of strain on the ACL and increase the risk of re-injury if certain muscles around the knee are weak or imbalanced.
- Those who continue to engage in activities that put great strain on the knee, like sports or activities that involve high impact movements, are at higher risk of re-injuring the knee due to the increased risk of a potential recurrence.
It’s important to follow a proper rehabilitation program and work with a healthcare provider or physical therapist to ensure a safe and complete recovery from an ACL injury. This may include strength and flexibility exercises, as well as education on how to properly warm up and cool down before and after physical activity. By taking these precautions, it is possible to reduce the risk of re-injury and maintain long-term knee stability.