by Dennis Crawford, MD, PhD and Elizabeth Swank, MS, ATC, OHSU Sports Medicine Program, OHSU Orthopaedics & Rehabilitation Anterior Cruciate Ligament (ACL)
injury to the knee is one of the more common and dreaded injuries in sports. This may occur in novice athletes to the
most seasoned veteran, effectively ending a season or sometimes a way of life. Fortunately, ACL injuries may be prevented through gaining awareness of poor training techniques and improving biomechanics. Risk factors include an individual's technical training level, skill level, fatigue, type of sports and female gender. Keys to the prevention of any injury, particularly to the ACL, would include a combination of strength, flexibility, motor control and balance.
Twisting or hyper-extending the knee while landing or making a cutting or pivoting move is a common mechanism of injury to the ACL. Many of these injuries occur in non-contact situations. If your knee swells up rapidly after an injury, you have a sensation that your joint is loose or unstable or you have lost confidence in your knee, you may have an ACL injury and should contact your doctor, or more specifically a Sports Medicine Physician specialist. Physical examination is very accurate for diagnosing an ACL tear but often an MRI is needed to evaluate for additional injury to the cartilage or meniscus of the knee.
If you are an athlete who participates in a sport demanding multidirectional movement and jumping you may want to contact a Sports Medicine Physician, Physical Therapist, Certified Athletic Trainer or Strength and Conditioning Professional for a risk assessment. At OHSU Sports Medicine we have developed testing measures to assess and correct potential risk factors for ACL injury. We offer individual, group or team training sessions that address specific factors identified during a risk assessment completed by a team of physical therapists, certified athletic trainers and strength and conditioning professionals.