ACL Injury and Chiropractic

ACL injury

The knee is a hinge joint and stability is provided by the large thigh muscles (the quadriceps and hamstrings), the cartilaginous medial and lateral menisci, the medial and lateral collateral ligaments, and the anterior and posterior cruciate ligaments. The cruciate ligaments are located within the knee joint and provide front-and-back stability to the knee. Specifically, the anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) helps prevent the shin bone (tibia) from sliding too far forward with respect to the thigh bone (femur). The cruciate ligaments also provide rotational stability to the knee.

The cutting maneuver, in which the foot is planted, the knee is flexed, the thigh is internally rotated, the shin is externally rotated, and with subsequent powerful contraction of the quadriceps is a position of vulnerability for the knee. Cutting maneuvers are common in sports such as soccer, basketball, football, and lacrosse. Cutting maneuvers may also be utilized in daily life, such as with the need to suddenly bend and twist the lower body.. Sudden, unanticipated cutting maneuvers may result in knee injury. Structures that may be damaged include the medial meniscus, the medial collateral ligament, and the ACL. This complex of injuries is known as O'Donaghue's triad. If there is significant joint swelling post-injury, it is likely that the ACL has been severely sprained and possibly ruptured.

Prevention is always the optimal policy, as third-degree ACL sprains (torn ACL) typically require ACL reconstructive surgery. Postoperative rehabilitation includes progressive physical therapy and at-home exercise. This recovery period usually ranges from 8 to 12 months.

Prevention of ACL injuries involves flexibility routines and lower extremity strengthening exercises. Flexibility activities may include yoga, Pilates exercises, and regular stretching of the quadriceps, hamstrings, and calf muscles. Lower extremity strength training includes squats, lunges, quadriceps extension, hamstring curls, calf raises, and toe raises. A primary result of an ongoing flexibility and lower extremity strength training program is optimization of knee proprioception, that is, increased neurological activity of the knee joint regarding its positioning in 3-dimensional space. Enhanced proprioception will help distribute cutting maneuver physical forces around the knee joint more effectively, reducing the likelihood of injury. As well, flexibility and exercise programs provide resilience and increased strength to the musculoskeletal structures comprising and supporting the knee.

Regular chiropractic care provides necessary support for both knee injury prevention programs and postoperative recovery. By detecting and correcting sources of biomechanical dysfunction and nerve interference, regular chiropractic care helps create a physiological environment by means of which you and your family can obtain the greatest benefit from your exercise activities. In the same way, if ACL reconstruction ever becomes necessary, regular chiropractic care helps assist the effectiveness of the recovery program and helps your body achieve the greatest benefit from rehabilitation protocols.

Benjaminse A, et al: Revised Approach to the Role of Fatigue in Anterior Cruciate Ligament Injury Prevention: A Systematic Review with Meta-Analyses. Sports Med. 2019 Jan 18. doi: 10.1007/s40279-019-01052-6. [Epub ahead of print]

Biscarini A, et al: Knee flexion with quadriceps contraction: A new therapeutic exercise for the early stage of ACL rehabilitation. J Biomech 49(16):3855-3860, 2016

Smeets A, Malfait B: Is knee neuromuscular activity related to anterior cruciate ligament injury risk? A pilot study. Knee. 2018 Nov 8. pii: S0968-0160(18)30903-30907, 2018. doi: 10.1016/j.knee.2018.10.006. [Epub ahead of print]

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  • "This was my first chiropractic visit and I will definitely continue to see Dr. Venessa! The space is beautiful and clean. The person working reception was welcoming, knowledgeable and seemed happy to answer my questions. I was able to complete my paperwork before coming in so there was no wait. Dr. Venessa asked me some questions and did a sort of assessment before my adjustment. She kept me informed of what she would be doing and has a nice bedside manner so nothing seemed awkward. She finished my adjustment and I checked out. All in all I had a great experience in the office but what happened after was even better- my energy increased like crazy! At first I didn’t even consider it might have been from my adjustment. I was just talking with my husband when he asked if I thought it may have been from my chiro appointment so I googled it and apparently that’s common! So again, very happy with my experience and I will be back!"
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  • "Dr. Venessa is great with her patients. She takes the time to address all of your needs. Not only will she adjust you, but she will also give you exercises that you can do that will help. Her staff is very friendly and helpful. They also have 2 massage therapists in the office and are running a great special this month."
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