Choosing the Right Treatment for Your Torn Anterior Cruciate Ligament (ACL)
Rupturing your ACL can be an extremely painful experience. The injury is caused by an uncontrolled high load, which stretches and breaks the controlling ligament. This can occur when participating in high energy sports such as skiing or motocross, and can also result from a simple trip or fall when wearing skis, which overstretch the ligaments. Patients who see us usually report an unnatural fall, twist, and pop as the ligament tears, and then the knee swells almost immediately. This can be followed by pain and instability. A ruptured ACL destabilises the knee joint, which can lead to early arthritic changes in later life. This post explains what to do if you’ve ruptured your ACL, easing the pain, helping prevent further injury and enabling you to continue participating in the activities you enjoy.
Non-Surgical Torn ACL Treatment
Following injury, the first thing to do is follow the RICE regime. Rest, Ice, Compression, Elevate. These will allow the knee joint to settle and the immediate torn damage to resolve. Once broken, though, an ACL ligament can only be repaired by surgery. Unless your ruptured ACL is combined with another knee injury such as a damaged meniscus, bone bruise or other ligament tear, non-surgical ACL treatment can be adequate once the swelling has subsided. This involves wearing an ACL knee brace to support the knee and prevent it from sustaining further injury. ACL knee braces are also recommended after surgery to help you achieve a full recovery and return to a performance level that’s as close to your original standard as possible.
What to Look for in an ACL Knee Brace
When choosing your ACL knee brace, there are several features you should look out for. It needs to be comfortable, with ample, non-slip padding and plenty of adjustability for maximum comfort and support. At the same time it must have a rigid frame to prevent your knee from slipping into an unnatural position.
Your knee brace should be made from a lightweight material to minimise restriction on movement, and if you participate in water sports, be sure to choose one made from a non-corrosive material such as carbon composite.
The CTi knee brace combines all the above features with many others and is highly recommended for sports injuries of all kinds. It’s also ideal for those with pre-existing joint instability who are looking to prevent further damage.
If you have other knee injuries as well as a ruptured ACL, you might want to consider surgical treatment as the injury will be unable to heal fully by itself. Cartilage tears, meniscus injuries, bone bruises, PCL tears, posterolateral injuries and collateral ligament injuries all hinder the healing process, so if you have any of these conditions, it may be worth asking your GP about surgery.
If you do choose to have surgery, you will probably be referred to a physiotherapist beforehand to prepare for treatment. Once ready, you will undergo a physical examination and then your appointment will be arranged. Your physiotherapist or orthopaedic consultant will probably recommend that you follow up your treatment with an ACL knee brace to support your weakened knee and prevent further injury.
If you’d like more information on torn ACL treatment, visit the Knee Bracing section of our website.