The knee is the most important part of a human’s lower anatomy. The knee consists of three knee bones, namely the kneecap, thighbone, and shinbone. Ligaments connect the three knee bones, acting as a hinge and a joint for proper movement. Of the four ligaments located in the knee, the anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) – located below the thighbone and shinbone – is much prone to injuries. A knee injury occurs when an ACL suffers from any kind of damage. The cause of ACL injury could involve collision between the knee and objects, and awkward movement, which may cause awkward angling of legs and improper landing in the process. Prevention of ACL injury involves constant involvement of knee muscles through training and body movement coordination. Treatment of ACL injuries are systematical, meaning that analysis of the injury, pre-operation, post-operation, and rehabilitation processes must be done as prescribed by the doctor.
Keywords: ACL injury, rehabilitation, collision, surgery, conditioning
Knees connect the legs and foot nerves, and any damage to it could disable any human’s walking skills. The frontal part of the knee known as the kneecap/patella acts as a shield for protection of vital knee parts. Other bones connecting to the kneecap are thighbone/femur and shinbone/tibia, which protect the human motion nerves from damages. The ligament is a vital part of the knee found behind the kneecap. Together with tendons, ligaments support the knee bones while acting as a hinge that makes knee joints bend properly. Knee bones, tendons, and ligaments connect one another – built like protective hinges of human motion anatomy. Knees are designed to be durable, but any significant injury or knee damage would be critical to the walking state of a person.
Common Knee Injuries: Torn Anterior Cruciate Ligament
The anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) is one of the ligaments found in the internal knee system. It is located at the frontal section of the human knee, specifically below the cartilage and tibia. Given its location and its role as a supporting ligament to the knee bones, the anterior cruciate ligament is much prone to damages due to its tissue-like composition. Thus, a broken ACL could result either in a knee injury. The degree of pain suffered due to a ruptured ACL could put the mobility state of the lower body at risk.
Among all knee ligaments in the knee system, the ACL is the most prone to damages. It usually occurs when the knee is hyperextended due to a natural occurrence in the internal knee system or due to excessive physical activities (Wedro, 2004). It is the most known knee-related injury because the ACL can be easily twisted due to the amount of physical force exerted on the knee or impaired change in movements. The occurrences of ACL injuries are very common among participants in physical activities, and almost 80000 cases occur annually in the United States (Griffin et. al, 2000).
Causes of Torn Anterior Cruciate Ligament
The anterior cruciate ligament acts like screws and bolts, which can cause sturdier knee parts to break loosely if broken. What causes an instance of torn ACL injury to the stability of knees? The causes of ACL injury are attributed to human physics and kinetics, commonly attributed to the movement and direct contact between objects. Therefore, any physical activity requiring excessive use of lower body parts could put the healthy state of knees at risk. Natural occurrences involving genetic structures attributed to one’s knees may be potential causes for ruptured ACL.
Performing most of the physical activities such as sports involve excessive movement of legs and coordination of lower body parts. When a person’s knees got into a collision with another object, contusion of knee parts may occur. It can affect knee functionality as well. Excessive performances of sporting activities demand a high level of physicality and proper conditioning. Hence, any form of hard collision between the object and the knees could potentially measure the damage done to the knee and the degree of ACL injury occurrence to some extent. One instance could be the awkward landing of knees colliding to a hard surface. There is a high chance of an ACL injury occurrence, depending on the height of impact between the fall and collision.
Injuring the ACL in the process may not involve any physical collision between the knee and the object. Hence, an ACL injury might occur in a natural and non-contact manner, depending on how human movements altered the knee mechanism. Non-contact ACL injuries happen 70% of the time (Luks and Eibensteiner, 2014), which means that the knees taking contact against other objects does not result in immediate knee damage. When a person suddenly changes its motion through its lower body, there is a high chance of altering the internal structure of knees. Therefore, incorrect adjustments in human movements and kinetics can dislocate knees or impair the ACL.
The internal structure of human knees could also determine its proneness to ACL injury, which means that genetics plays a role on the durability of knees. Likewise, the occurrence of an ACL injury may be based from a person’s anatomical and hormonal traits. Women have smaller muscular structures and ACL size compared to men, which put women at risk of ACL injury (Renstrom et al., 2008). Humans with varying physical specimen sets and muscle performances change at a certain degree, but it is still difficult to measure the actual durability of human knees. Thus, human ACLs are always at risk of getting twisted due to constant wear-and-tear and motion mileage. Another trait is that a human’s strength and durability decreases as the age increases. This means that a knee at an older age could be more prone to ACL injuries, due to the human pressure placed on knees due to constant walking.
ACL Injury: Prevention
Many people develop a high level of self-consciousness when it comes to maintaining health and wellness, as it prolongs their capabilities to do any physical activity. When one knows how to maintain a healthy physical and mental mindset, chances are that any disease can be prevented. For those who want to minimize the ACL from being ruptured, it is important to be aware of personal health. Regular strength and balance training to support knees and ankles may help, while learning how to move with good alignment to protect the knees (Chiaia and Mille, 2009). Prevention of ACL injury helps a person to be more dexterous when performing activities requiring heavy use of legs. Knowing proper movement with good alignment minimizes the instance of twisting the knee. Likewise, developing the strength of knees makes its internal tissues and muscles prevents the whole knee structure from crumbling. Careful conditioning and extensive training of lower body gives the knees the versatility and durability, provided that awkward angling of knees are minimized.
ACL Injury: Cure
Damaging the anterior cruciate ligament is always the worst case scenario for knee-related injuries. ACL injuries can halt sporting careers and limit a person’s lower body movement in the process. If a knee-related injury takes place, immediate treatment is mandatory. Natural methods are available for treatment of torn ACL and progressive rehabilitation of knees. Likewise, medical and surgical methods for treating ACL injuries have improved over time.
Before a torn ACL of a knee undergoes any treatment and surgical process, the doctor must undertake proper diagnosis and assessment procedures. This means that doctors need to determine any medical history, occurrence of the injury, and personal factors surrounding the patient. After the initial check-up, the doctor would then evaluate if the surgery is needed. Surgical operation of the knees should be performed right away in order to follow the timeline prepared for the knee healing phase (Cross, 1998). The knee healing phase would include post-surgery procedures and rehabilitation process. During the knee healing phase, post-operation methods such as injection of anesthetic medicines and steroids for restoration of knee into stability. The most important part of knee healing phase is the rehabilitation process. The process would involve lower body and mental conditioning – aiming to ensure that the knee is fully healed and that the mindset would overcome the fears of post-knee injury stage.
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Griffin, L. Y., Agel, J., Albohm, M. J., Arendt, E. A., Dick, R. W., Garrett, W. E., & Wojtys, E. M. (2000). Noncontact anterior cruciate ligament injuries: risk factors and prevention strategies. Journal of the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons, 8(3), 141-150.
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Renstrom, P., Ljungqvist, A., Arendt, E., Beynnon, B., Fukubayashi, T., Garrett, W. & Engebretsen, L. (2008). Non-contact ACL injuries in female athletes: an International Olympic Committee current concepts statement.British journal of sports medicine, 42(6), 394-412.
Wedro, B., & Shiel Jr., W. (2014, June 4). Torn ACL: Click for Symptoms, Surgery, and Recovery Time. Retrieved December 16, 2014, from http://www.emedicinehealth.com/torn_acl/article_em.htm