Anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) tears often occur in volleyball as the result of a player jumping up and then landing awkwardly. The knee joint is made up of the shinbone tibia), thighbone (femur) and kneecap(patella) and ligaments help to connect these bones together and ensure stability of the knee. The anterior cruciate ligament is within the knee joint and this specific ligament attacches at the front of the shin bone. These ligaments work to ensure your knee is stable to move back and forth and this specific ligament gives the knee rotational stability and it prevents the tibia from sliding on the femur. This injury may occur alone or another ligament in the knee or the meniscus may also be injured at the same time.
Signs and Symptoms of an Anterior Cruciate Ligament Tear
The signs and symptoms of this injury can be pretty characteristic and easy to identify for those familiar with this ligament and the anatomy of the knee. Signs ans symptoms may include:
- Swelling in the knee that occurs within about six hours of getting injured
- At the time of injury, a popping sound is common
- Pain is the most common symptom and this makes it very difficult to put any weight on your injured knee
- Your knee may also feel unstable and like it is ready to give out at any time
Treating an Anterior Cruciate Ligament Tear
Immediately following the injury you must get off of the injured knee and not put any weight on it. Ice the area and elevate it to help in reducing pain and swelling. If you have an ACE wrap on hand, use this to apply compression to the injured knee. This injury must be evaluated by a doctor or certified athletic trainer right away so have someone transport you to the nearest emergency room for evaluation and further treatment.
Surgery is necessary to reconstruct this ligament because it is unable to heal on its own. While awaiting surgery, you may not be allowed to put any weight on the affected knee so your doctor might show you how to work with crutches. Your knee may also be braced to allow for greater stability and to prevent further injury.
Surgery reconstructs the ligament so that it is able to withstand the force and activity of both everyday life and volleyball. A tissue graft is used to replace the ligament that is torn and this can be obtained from tendons in your body or from a cadaver.
Following your surgery, your knee is braced and you will need to use crutches until your doctor says it is okay to start putting weight on the knee. A few weeks after your surgery you will begin a rehabilitation program that works to strengthen your knee, aid in more stabilization and improve your range of motion. This can be a lengthy process because it is important to not go back to volleyball until you are fully ready.