Anterior cruciate ligament – the hero of movement

Anterior cruciate ligament, generally referred to as ACL, is a major ligament of the knee. It is a strong ligament that connects the bones that comprise the knee joint. Since the knee is used excessively in almost all kinds of movements, the tendency of this ligament to get damaged is extremely high. The anterior cruciate ligament allows the knee to be balanced and also lends stability to the joint. The ligament lessens the stress that the knee joint is likely to be subjected to in complicated and difficult movements. The ligament also limits the 360 degree movement of the knee joint. There are various ways in which the anterior cruciate ligament can be damaged. A sudden halt and twist of the knee or a head-on hit are key causes of such a tear. While a ‘pop’ sound is considered a sure shot sign of an ACL tear, sometimes the sound does not occur exactly at the time of the injury. A feeling of buckling knees and swelling are key symptoms on injury to this ligament. Physical therapy is a must if the anterior cruciate ligament has been injured and if the patient wants to get back to normal life. Some interesting facts about the ACL are mentioned below.

- It is the anterior cruciate ligament that provides the maximum support and balance to the knee joint. In fact, about 90% of the stability that exists is mainly due to the ACL. Since the ACL is most prone to injury, any damage caused can result in sever restriction in movement and balance.
- The anterior cruciate ligament is actually the one ligament that is injured or damaged most often. These injuries are most likely to occur as sports injuries and, therefore, physical therapy becomes absolutely essential for treatment. The four phases of the treatment are rest, movement, stability and skilled movements for the patient.

- Six out of every ten thousand people suffer from an anterior cruciate ligament injury. While at one end, people are becoming increasingly fitness conscious, the advancements in science technology have ensured that there is a high possibility of injured athletes to return to field in their original form as before.

- The process of reconstruction in an anterior cruciate ligament has now become a common procedure. About fifty thousand patients are admitted each year for an ACL injury and each one of these has a fair chance of getting back to regular movements within 8 to 10 weeks if physical therapy protocols are maintained.

- The process of ACL physical therapy is detailed, well-documented and provides specific guidelines to ensure that each phase is covered and that the therapy progresses at the right pace. The anterior cruciate ligament is then slowly brought back to its original form so that normal life can be resumed.