Of the four main ligaments in your knee, the anterior cruciate ligament tends to get the most headlines, especially in the sports world. As one of the primary ligament that provides stability to the knee joint, an ACL tear can require weeks or months of rehabilitation, and in some cases surgery is required. However, like a lot of injuries, damage to the anterior cruciate ligament can range in severity. In today’s blog, we focus on what is sometimes the trickiest type of injury to the ACL – the partial ACL tear.
What Is A Partial ACL Tear?
When looking at ACL injuries, they are typically graded on a three point scale. A Grade I sprain involves minor damage to the ligament and the knee joint remains fairly stable. A Grade III sprain involves a complete tear of the ACL and an unstable knee joint. In the middle is what’s known as a Grade II sprain, or a partial tear of the ACL. Depending on the nature of the tear, joint instability can range from mild to severe. The basis for whether or not surgery will be performed typically involves how much instability there is in the joint.
For partial tears with minor or moderate instability, your doctor may recommend that you try conservative techniques to see how the ligament responds before progressing to a more invasive option like surgery. If conservative care is recommended, it’s almost always going to involve some form of physical therapy.
Physical therapy is essential after a partial ACL tear because of what the technique can provide and the type of healing you’re looking to achieve. Caring for partial ligament tears are unique because you’re not just focusing on helping the tear mend, what we really want is to restore joint stability and function. Time can help with some of this, but physical therapy is what will really drive home the healing and restrengthening of the knee.
At OrthoRehab Specialists, we’ve worked with countless patients who are working towards a recovery from partial or total ACL tears where instability is an issue. The goals are similar with each patient. We want to maintain the strengthen of the supportive muscles that surround the joint, and we want to stabilize the joint through muscle balancing and biomechanical training. We’ll accomplish this by conducting some baseline strength and stability tests, developing a personalized exercise program to target key structures, educating our patients on the best ways to strengthen their knee and what activities should be avoided, and by helping them develop an at-home care routine so they can continue to strengthen their knee when they are between visits.
We also closely monitor your progress from session to session so we can see where you’re making strides and where you may need a little more attention. We can also assess whether physical therapy is working or whether you’d be better off getting surgery and coming back to therapy once your knee has been surgically addressed. Treating partial ACL tears is tricky, but our staff has a wealth of knowledge on the intricacies of the knee joint and how to best improve the surrounding tissues. Let us help you get back on your feet following a knee injury.
So if you’ve been diagnosed with an ACL sprain, a partial tear or a full blown rupture, know that physical therapy can help you come back stronger than ever. To learn more about how we can help you, reach out to our clinic today.