An anterior cruciate ligament injury is described as a sprain involving the anterior cruciate ligament that is situated in the central part of the knee. It is important that you are familiar with the signs and symptoms, potential causes and suitable treatment options. You can learn more about this injury by enrolling in a course on first aid today.
What are the symptoms?
During the time of injury, the individual will experience severe pain in the affected knee. The knee will swell up abruptly due to the bleeding inside the joint that feels warm to the touch. In most cases, there might be a perceivable crack or pop at the time of injury and an unstable feeling.
Oftentimes, the individual will consult a doctor the next day or two after sustaining an injury. At that time, there is already substantial swelling that will make it hard for the doctor to diagnose what is wrong with the knee. After a few days once the swelling subsides, it will be easier to assess the knee joint. The symptoms include the following:
- Diminished range of movement with difficulty in straightening the affected leg
- Area surrounding the knee joint is tender
The tests used in diagnosing an anterior cruciate ligament injury include the Lachman’s test and anterior drawer test in which both aim to stress the ligament to generate pain or instability.
What are the immediate treatment options of ACL injury?
If an individual is suspected with an anterior cruciate ligament injury, he/she must stop any activity right away. You have to utilize the PRICE principles (protection, rest, ice, compression, elevation).
The application of an ice pack and compression will help reduce the pain and put an end to the swelling and bleeding. The compression wrap should only be used for 10 minutes at a time to avoid disrupting the flow of blood.
An ice pack can be applied for 10-15 minutes every hour for the initial 24-48 hours but not directly on the skin. There are cold wraps available in the market that is suitable for knee injuries. Do not forget to elevate the limb since this will help stop the swelling and promotes the drainage of fluid away from the site of injury.
When to consult a doctor
The doctor might not be able to do much the day after the injury. The joint is likely to be too sore and engorged to be assessed properly. Once the swelling subsides, a proper assessment and diagnosis can be done. In most cases, an MRI can confirm a diagnosis while an X-ray will rule out an avulsion fracture.
It is likely that the doctor will recommend surgery and a pre-surgery rehabilitation program in order to strengthen the knee as well as minimize the swelling in preparation for surgery. Take note that this will help produce the ideal results after surgery.