Most people are keenly aware of ACL tears among American football players – the knee injury is common, and players routinely make the news when hurt on the field in such a fashion. There’s another sports demographic that sees a massive amounts of ACL injuries, however, and that is women’s soccer. In fact, women are four times as likely as men to suffer an ACL injury.
What is the ACL?
The ACL is the anterior cruciate ligament, one of the most important parts of the knee for strength and stability. It runs around the knee from the front of the tibia to the back of the femur, and prevents the joint from over-rotating. When hyper-rotation is forced, the ligament can tear.
What causes an ACL tear?
Suddenly slowing down and/or changing direction (cutting), pivoting around one foot, or landing awkwardly after a jump are all actions that can lead to an ACL tear. Not surprisingly they are also all actions which are common in the game of soccer. Women can experience major tears to the ACL during practice or play, particularly if a field is rough, uneven, or muddy.
What should be done to treat an ACL tear?
Women are notorious for overlooking pain, even professional players. If an ACL tear is suspected, splint the leg, apply ice, and get an orthopedic consult. If the player reported hearing or feeling a “pop” followed by instability of the knee and extreme pain, it’s likely an ACL tear.
Even minuscule ACL tears can be extremely slow to heal and remain vulnerable for weeks or months after the injury occurs. If the tear is significant, surgery and rehabilitation will be needed to repair the damage and restore range of motion.
What does ACL surgery consist of?
ACL surgery is normally an arthroscopic surgery, meaning the surgeon can work on the knee through extremely small incisions using tiny tools to perform the operation. In most cases, the ligament is reconstructed using a tendon graft.
Post ACL Surgery
Once the surgery is completed, physical therapy will be ordered, gradually increasing in intensity as the joint strengthens and stabilizes. Most women can return to light soccer practice around 6 months after this surgery, and by the 7-9 month mark can return to competitive play.
Dr. Scott Strasburger completes ACL restoration surgery for men and women who have suffered an ACL tear. If you are in need of surgery for an ACL injury, contact our office for a consultation today.