If you’re a football player, you already know that this full-contact sport comes with the risk of various injuries, including those to the ACL. Such injuries occur when the anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) is stretched too far or torn. This can happen during a tackle or when switching directions too suddenly during a play. Damage to the ACL or knee joint is fairly common in football; in fact, injuries to the knee account for 20-30% of all NFL injuries.
If you’ve sustained an injury, you’re not alone – and Advance ER is here for you. Many fantastic pro athletes have injured their ACL and still returned to their sport after recovery. Pro footballers who had ACL injuries include Tom Brady, Adrian Peterson, and Teddy Bridgewater, just to name a few. We’ll do everything we can to provide accurate diagnostics and emergency care, so you can get back to playing the sport you love as quickly as possible.
For more information on treatments and recovery processes following football ACL injuries, feel free to reach out to one of our locations today.
What Happens After an ACL Injury?
As stated by Yale Medicine, there are typically two courses of action when it comes to treating injuries to the anterior cruciate ligament: nonsurgical treatment and surgical treatment. Nonsurgical methods may include bracing the affected area or prescribing physical therapy. Surgical methods involve internal procedures to repair the damaged ligament. The treatment methods prescribed to you will be largely dependent upon the severity of your injury. For reference, Johns Hopkins Medicine classifies ACL injuries into one of three “grades”.
This grade denotes mild damage to the ACL, such as a slight tear that may be causing pain or discomfort but is not completely torn. These types of injuries can typically be resolved without surgical intervention.
This grade is actually the most uncommon type of ACL injury. It indicates a ligament that has been stretched far but hasn’t broken, or one that has only been partially torn. Since there is more gray area with Grade 2 ACL injuries, you’ll want to consult with your doctor about whether or not surgery is necessary.
The most severe type of ACL injury is a Grade 3. This usually indicates a full tear, where the ligament is no longer providing any sort of stability or support to the knee. With a full ACL tear, surgical intervention is typically needed. In this case, you will be referred to an orthopedic surgeon who will walk you through everything you need regarding preoperative and postoperative care. They will also provide you with rehabilitative treatments to help you recover and return to your sport once you’re ready.
Recovering After an ACL Injury
Much like the treatments you’ll be prescribed following your incident, recovery time will also be largely dependent upon the severity of the injury and whether or not a surgical procedure was required. For a severe tear, it may take as long as 6-9 months for your knee to heal completely. For a stretched or partially torn ACL, you may be able to return to your normal activities as soon as 2-3 months after your injury. Rest assured your orthopedic specialist will communicate projected recovery times with you, so you won’t be left to guess – we want you to heal safely!
Whether or not your injury requires surgery, you may also be referred to a physical therapist for part of your recovery process. A physical therapist will work with you to regain function in your knee and help you move without discomfort following your injury or procedure. Your recovery care team will also provide you with tips for preventing future sports injuries, including:
- Making sure adequate protective gear is being worn at all times
- Resting between games and practices
- Properly warming up and cooling down before games and practices
- Staying active in off seasons
- Staying hydrated
- Learning body cues and awareness
- Incorporating strength and balance training into workouts
- Educating on proper sport-specific techniques
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Emergency Services for Sports Injuries
The best course of action after sustaining a sports injury is to visit the emergency room. No matter the grade of your ACL injury, a physician can provide initial treatments to prevent the injury from worsening and can refer you to any additional specialists.
To inquire about wait times, schedule a service, or gain more information on how we can help you recover from football ACL injuries, don’t hesitate to contact one of our two locations below: