Whether you’re a professional Football player, an amateur athlete or someone who’s just active, an injury can happen at any time. An injury that can happen if you participate in an activity that involves a lot of cutting and twisting is the tearing of your ACL and/or MCL
What is an ACL and MCL?
The Anterior Cruciate Ligament (ACL) is a ligament located towards the inner knee that is crucial for proper movement. ACL injuries commonly cause knee instability that damages other ligaments. This injury is seen most commonly in athletes, and the injuries range from mild, such as small tears, to severe, where the ligament is completely torn.
The Medial Collateral Ligament (MCL) is a band of tissue, which is also found inside your knee. It connects your thighbone to the bone of your lower leg. The main job for the MCL is to keep the knee from bending inward. Injuries also vary from mild to severe, but are not as severe as an injury to the ACL.
Torn ACLs are most often related to high impact sports or when the knee is forced to stop suddenly after running at high speeds. ACL failure has been linked to heavy or stiff-legged landings. Women who play sports are more prone to ACL injuries than men, mainly because of the differences in anatomy, general muscle strength and reaction time of muscle contraction and coordination.
You can tear your MCL during activities that involve quick twisting, bending or changing direction quickly. The MCL is most often torn when the outside of the knee is hit inward.
Since an injury to the ACL is more serious than an injury to the MCL, the recovery time differs. Treatments for both injuries require physical therapy and sometimes the use of a knee brace, but the extent of these varies greatly.
Injuries to the ACL increases the risk of other injuries to the knee, so sports with cutting and twisting motions are strongly discouraged. Unfortunately the knee will be more susceptible to injuries in the future. Patients, who frequently participate in sports like Football, often need surgery.
MCL tears can be treated depending on their severity. Resting, the use of ice, taking anti-inflammatory medicine and possible use of crutches can treat mild to moderate injuries.
More moderate injuries may require the injured to wear a hinged knee brace, which locks the knee in place until the ligament heals, and reduced the amount of weight put on the leg. Severe injuries may require wearing the hinged brace for a few months and limiting the use of the leg for a longer period of time.
The most important thing for a patient to remember is to trust the care of their doctors and physical therapists. Being patient and keeping an open communication with caregivers is essential to help them help you during recovery.