Orthopaedics

What is an ACL Fracture?

An

ACL

(

Anterior Cruciate Ligament

 

 

) fracture

is an

avulsion fracture

 

(tearing away of a bone fragment from the main bone) that occurs in the knee joint. A sudden trauma is the major cause for these kind of fractures. This fracture mostly occurs in sport persons involved in tennis, volleyball, basketball and soccer where a lot of twisting and turning is involved.

Causes of an ACL Fracture:

As we already know, ligaments are the tissues that connect one bone to the other. The ACL or the anterior cruciate ligament connects the femur (thigh bone) to the tibia (shinbone). This ligament is very useful for maintaining the knee joint’s stability.

  • As mentioned above, people who are involved in the above sports usually are prone to sudden stops and direction changes which can place a lot of stress on the knee joints. Also, people who are into fitness activities are also at a risk of fracturing this ligament.
  • During sudden changes in movement and direction, the knee could be overextended or twisted causing the ligament to tear. Also, planting the foot firmly, awkward landing attempts (while skiing), tackling in football and falling off a bike can also fracture the anterior cruciate ligament.

Risk Factors:

When compared to men in the same sport, women are more vulnerable to fracturing their ACL because of their strength imbalance. In women, the quadriceps (muscles at the thigh’s front) are stronger when compared to their hamstrings (muscles at the thigh’s back). But, it is the hamstrings that need to be stronger to prevent the shinbone from sliding.

Women athletes who are into sports that involve jumping are at an increased risk of fracturing their ACL.

Symptoms:

The following would be the signs or symptoms after a fracture to the ACL-

  • severe pain
  • a pop sound
  • knee swelling that worsens progressively
  • instability while trying to stand

Diagnosis:

Usually, a physical examination is often enough for doctors to identify the fracture. Severity of the injury can be assessed using imaging techniques like X-rays, MRI, Ultrasound and arthroscopy.

Treatment:

There are surgical procedures like arthrocentesis (to prevent ligament bleeding) and surgical reconstruction (ligament replacement using another tendon from the leg) for treating this kind of fracture. Irrespective of a surgery, rehabilitation is a must to strengthen the muscles and bring back the knee motion.

An

ACL fracture

can be prevented by strengthening the hamstrings, proper landing techniques and proper gear while in the sport.

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