Anterior Cruciate Ligament & Knee Osteoarthritis
Ligaments are tough, rope-like connective fibers that connect bones to each other, connect cartilage to joints, and support internal organs such as the kidneys.
The Anterior Cruciate Ligament (ACL) is one of the main ligaments of the knee joint, which links the upper leg bone (Femur) with one of the lower leg bones (Tibia) by running crosswise inside the center of the knee joint. The ACL stabilizes knee movement in a forward and backward direction. It would be wise, therefore, to pay more attention to our knees and the beating that they take on a regular basis.
ACL tears are common in sports that require jumping or shifts in weight such as basketball, soccer, or skiing. Falling forward and outward is a classic mishap that can lead to an ACL tear. When torn, the knee usually feels unstable. These tears can lead to injury to other structures within the knee that cushion the bony surfaces. In the long term, the knee develops Osteoarthritis. Therefore, treating a common knee injury such as ACL tear could help avoid knee osteoarthritis.
A sprain and/or partial/minor tear in the ACL may be treated initially with RICE (Rest, Ice, Compression and Elongation), and subsequently with physiotherapy and wearing appropriate knee brace to stabilize the knee. Once completely recovered, it is advisable to continue wearing the brace during sports activities and any kind of exertion to avoid recurrence of the injury and to keep the knee joint stable and strong.
However, in case of a complete/major ACL tear, the ligament is not likely to heal on its own. In such cases, surgery can help stabilize the knee, and might even protect knees from the risk of future knee arthritis.
Other precautions to help prevent Knee Osteoarthritis are:
Weight control – Increased weight puts excessive stress on the knees.
Exercise – Keeping the muscles around the knee strong and flexible can help decrease the stress on the knee cartilage and even improve knee function in people with arthritis