Did you watch the super bowl? Did you hear the announcers say “ACL”?
Joe Burrow, the starting quarterback for the Cincinnati Bengals tore his ACL two years ago, and during the game, former New York Giants wide receiver (currently on the LA Rams) Odell Beckham Jr. tore his!
ACL stands for Anterior Cruciate Ligament.
What is it?
It’s one of the primary ligaments in the knee, along with the Posterior Cruciate Ligament (PCL) Medial Collateral Ligament (MCL) and Lateral Collateral Ligament (LCL)
So how does an ACL tear?
The majority of ACL tears come from non-contact injuries - when a person themselves places great force or movement on their knee to cause injury. They can also tear with contact injuries which is when there is a valgus force (force from the side) on the knee from the force of another person.
In field sports a big culprit of non-contact ACL tears is from what we call the “turf monster”. This is when the turf catches the person’s foot while they’re running or trying to come to a stop on the field. Which is how Odell Beckham Jr. tore his ACL.
There is also an increase in ACL tears among women, most likely due to the Q Angle (The angle between the hip and knee) - something that we will touch on in more depth on another Five Minute Friday episode.
Rehab for an ACL tear typically involves surgery as there is poor blood supply to this ligament. Therefore, it’s unlikely to re-heal itself. ACL tears are generally replaced by a graft of another tendon, such as:
Generally a return to sports is a 9 month timeline, obviously there are always outliers (Adrian Peterson) but 9 months is a framework that most protocols revolve around.
We will go more in depth of return to sport on another episode of 5 Minute Friday. Stay tuned!
Thanks for reading!
By: Dr. Tony Tanzi, PT, DPT, CSCS and Dr. Kyle Ioos, PT, DPT
Dr. Tony Tanzi: Physical Therapist, Triathlete, Runner, Performance Coach