Saturday April 8 2017
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Athletes are vulnerable to ACL injuries

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One of the most common problems involving the knee joint is an anterior cruciate ligament tear. The anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) is one of four ligaments that are critical to the stability of the knee joint.

A ligament is made of tough fibrous material and functions to control excessive motion by limiting joint mobility.

Athletes are more prone to ACL injuries, but they can inflict anyone. Certain sports can cause high forces to be experienced by the ACL. Gender is another contributing factor of ACL injuries. It has been reported that women may be eight times more likely to sustain an ACL injury.

According to Robert E. Schilken, MD, a sports medicine specialist at Allegheny General Hospital, the knee becomes less stable when there is an ACL injury. This instability causes patients to complain of a sensation that the knee will "give out" from under them.

“Each episode of instability will make pivoting movements difficult, and can lead to arthritis and meniscus tears,” said Dr. Schilken. “Many sports require a functioning ACL to perform common maneuvers such as cutting, pivoting, and sudden turns. Once an athlete has sustained an ACL injury, these high-demand sport activities may prove difficult.”

In the orthopaedic office, knee instability can be assessed by specific maneuvers by your physician. The function of the ligament is tested to determine if an ACL tear is present. Your physician will also evaluate X-rays of the knee to assess for any possible fractures, and a MRI may be ordered to evaluate for ligament or cartilage damage.

If surgery is necessary, ACL reconstruction is usually performed several weeks after the injury. Patients can expect to be using crutches from one-to-three weeks initially following ACL reconstruction. Emphasis is placed on control of swelling, flexibility of the joint, and return of strength. Over 90 percent of patients are able to resume their previous level of activity after ACL reconstruction.

When it comes to treating knee injuries, there are no better relievers in baseball—or any other sport—than the sports medicine specialists at Allegheny General Hospital. As the official medical provider of the Pittsburgh Pirates, AGH’s physicians are nationally acclaimed—Baseball Prospectus has awarded the Pittsburgh Pirates with its annual Dick Martin Award for having the “best medical staff” in the game.

And AGH’s physicians provide that same care for amateur and scholastic athletes as well. To schedule an appointment with a sports medicine specialist at Allegheny General Hospital, call 412-DOCTORS (362-8677).