An injury to the Anterior Cruciate Ligament (ACL) of the knee is one of the most common
sporting injuries. If you’re an athlete, you know that knee injuries such as an ACL tear can
put you on the sideline for months. However, did you know that ACL tears don’t just happen
to athletes? This is just one of the many misconceptions around ACL injuries.
Read on to find the top 10 myths believed about ACL injuries:
Myth 1: Only athletes suffer ACL tears
Ordinary people can suffer ACL tears as well as athletes. All it takes is a sudden movement
or twist in a particular direction and you could hear or feel a snap or pop.
Myth 2: An ACL tear will end your sporting career
Sometimes an ACL tear can really impact an athlete’s career, to the point where they cannot reach the level
they previously performed at prior to injury. However, most of the time
it may sideline you for a while but a full recovery is possible and you can come back stronger
than ever. Committing to a strict rehab program ensures the best possible outcome.
Myth 3: Surgery is the only option
Recent evidence has shown that ACL tears do not require surgery to recover.
Depending on age, sporting circumstances and goals conservative treatment without
surgery can be an option. In fact, research has shown athletes who have suffered an ACL
tear make a full recovery without surgical intervention and show the same risk of re-injury
as an athlete who did have surgery.
Myth 4: Rehabilitation takes a long time
Everybody is different. People with underlying health conditions are likely to face a longer
rehabilitation time as healing can be delayed. In general ligaments take longer to heal
than muscles and bones. The aim is to get the athlete back running and playing
sport after 3 months, with recovery taking as a little as 6 months. However, motor control
can take time to regain, which is where this myth comes from.
Myth 5: You can never run again
Most people are able to perform all movements they were able to do before the injury. This
mainly depends on your activity levels before injury as well as any underlying health
Myth 6: Wearing a knee brace can prevent ACL injuries
Wearing a brace and disregarding a strengthening program will only create a dependency
on the brace for structural support. This will weaken the knee therefore increasing the risk
Myth 7: Strengthening my quads will prevent an ACL injury
Yes, strengthening the quadriceps muscle will help to prevent an ACL injury. However, new
research indicates that although we should value quads strength, it is possibly more
important to strengthen the glutes and core. This will help with shock absorption and take
the load off the knees.
Myth 8: Ligaments, bones and muscles all heal at the same rate
Muscles and bones are rich in red blood cells which makes it easier for healing to occur.
Ligaments do not have as much blood supply which causes them to take longer to heal.
Myth 9: Men are more likely than women to have an ACL tear
Studies have shown that women are 2-8 times more likely to have an ACL tear. This is due to
many anatomical and biomechanical factors. One of these factors is that women have much
wider hips than men which changes the alignment of the knee causing it to move inwards
and places more stress on the ACL. The intercondylar notch is also smaller in women than in
men which makes the ACL susceptible to injury.
Myth 10: Surgery requires the knee to be cut open
Nowadays surgery is performed with a technique called arthroscopy. This is done by
inserting a small camera into the knee which allows the surgeon to look at the injured area
through a monitor and perform surgery.
A great deal of misunderstanding surrounds ACL injuries so it very important to filter information and discern
myths from facts.
If you have any questions about ACL injuries please don’t hesitate to contact our team. We’d
be more than happy to clear up any confusion or guide you through your
Recently suffered an ACL injury? Check out our e-book on early, post-operative rehab for an ACL reconstruction HERE.
Written by Nicholas Dimos (Physiotherapist)