If you’re an athlete or sports fan – be it of football, basketball, baseball, or tennis – chances are you’ve heard the word “ACL” tossed around a time or two, and with good reason. According to the American Orthopedic Society of Sports Medicine, about 150,000 ACL injuries occur each year, accounting for more than $500,000,000 in annual U.S. healthcare costs. With acronyms abounding, medical jargon can be difficult to keep straight! So what is the ACL, exactly, and what should you do in the case of injury?

What is the ACL?

ACL stands for the anterior cruciate ligament, one of the major and primary ligaments in the knee. Under stress (particularly during athletic activity or trauma), the ACL is particularly susceptible to tearing. Any abrupt stop, twist, or impact puts pressure on this delicate ligament, and can lead to injury. For this reason, ACL injuries most commonly occur in sports that require sudden stops, such as basketball, soccer, volleyball, gymnastics, and tennis. Alternately, the ACL may also be injured during a traumatic event, such as a car accident. Chances are, if you’ve experienced this too-common injury, you know it – the tearing of the ligament often results in a tell-tale “pop”, with an immediate pain that makes it difficult to impossible to bear weight.

Other symptoms may include:

– Severe pain and inability to continue activity

– Swelling that begins within a few hours

– Loss of range of motion

Treatment for injury

Ligaments are bands of tissue that connect one bone to the next. As such, injuries to the ligament usually involve a partial or complete tear. Depending upon the severity of your injury, you may require surgery, and will certainly need rehabilitative care to strengthen the damaged ligament. The good news? With proper attention, athletes and weekend warriors alike can generally expect a full recovery and a return to their sport of choice within 8-12 months!

For athletes (and athletic individuals), a torn ligament can feel like a frightening diagnosis. Remember – quick and appropriate treatment by trained professionals makes the difference in your prognosis. After accident or injury, let PROS Miami be your first call – we’ve been down this road before!

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