ACL Injuries: Not Just for Athletes
If you’re an avid soccer fan who has been glued to the TV during the World Cup, you know there’s nothing more anxiety-inducing than watching your favorite player tumble to the grass in pain, clutching at their knee or ankle. Are they overreacting to spite the other team, or are they actually injured?
While the exaggeration of injuries is a much-mocked aspect of professional soccer, injuries on the field are a major concern, and not just for soccer players. Athletes of all types and backgrounds, from high school football players to Olympics-bound sprinters, are susceptible to a wide array of injuries. Of these injuries, one of the most well-known—and often feared—is an ACL injury.
What is the ACL?
Officially called the anterior cruciate ligament, the ACL is one of the main ligaments in the knee. Along with the medial collateral, lateral collateral, and posterior cruciate ligaments, the ACL holds the knee joint in place. It also connects the knee to the tibia and femur in the leg. The ACL runs diagonally down the middle of the knee, and plays the important role of keeping the tibia from sliding out in front of the femur. It also helps to provide stability to the knee.
Sudden and repetitive stress causes ACL injuries. Stress is often caused by abrupt movements, such as:
- Suddenly stopping, slowing down, or changing direction
- An incorrect landing from a jump
- Pivoting with one foot firmly planted on the ground
- A direct hit to the knee, like a kick or tackle
When the ACL experiences stress from situations such as these, the ligament can rip or tear. When this happens, many people experienced a “popping” noise in the knee, followed by:
- Swelling in the knee
- Loss of range of motion
- Standing difficulties or inability to walk
- A feeling of instability
Since it is often the result of an awkward movement or direct blow, ACL injuries are commonly associated with athletes. However, athletes are not the only ones who can experience ACL tears.
Non-Athletic Causes of ACL Injuries
One non-athletic cause of ACL injuries is car accidents. Inside a car might seem like a surprising place for a knee injury. But due to the sudden impact of a collision, passengers can be jerked around in their seats, leading to sudden ligament tears. They might also hit their knee against the steering wheel, dashboard, or other object.
Another cause of ACL injuries is slips, trips, and falls. For example, if someone trips over an unmarked hole in a grassy area, they might twist their knee. Or if a worker slips from a high ladder at work, the impact of hitting the ground could cause damage to their knee. Knee injuries as a result of trips or falls might occur at the workplace, but can occur anywhere, like a grocery store or a neighbor’s backyard.
Liability for Knee Injuries
In sports, athletes often assume the risk of ACL tears in order to play the game they love. But when ACL injuries occur as the result of a car accident, workplace fall, or other mishap, someone else might be responsible for their injury. If an accident was caused by a texting driver, for example, someone who experienced a knee injury as a result might be able to hold the texting driver accountable for their dangerous behavior. If an injury occurs on someone else’s property, like a grocery store or sidewalk, the property owner might be liable if they did not promptly fix a present danger, like a slippery floor or uneven step, or if they did not warn of a present danger.
Whatever the cause, ACL tears are painful, debilitating injuries. Since it impacts stability and motion, they can hinder a person’s ability to work or perform basic tasks. Ligaments tears might also get in the way of hobbies they previously enjoyed. For people whose jobs require strenuous activity, an ACL injury can put them out of work, leading to lost wages.
The treatment for ACL tears depends on the severity of the injury, as well as the injured person. Many people rely on physical therapy to re-strengthen the muscles and regain a full range of motion in the knee. Though they may need crutches or braces for a period of time, many people do recover through rehabilitation. Others, however, require surgery. Young people, particularly athletes, are generally more inclined to get ACL surgery, because they prefer a faster recovery. ACL surgery involves replacing the torn ligament with a different tendon, usually from another part of the knee.
While soccer players made it look easy to get back up after a fall, recovering from an ACL tear is not always that simple. But with treatment and support, an ACL injury from an accident does not have to keep you down forever.
The attorneys at Perenich, Caulfield, Avril & Noyes represent those involved in car accidents, motorcycle accidents, bicycle accidents, pedestrian accidents, and other types of personal injury matters. Our firm is one of the oldest personal injury law firms in Tampa Bay. There are no attorneys’ fees or costs unless we prevail for you. Call our office 24 hours a day at 727-796-8282 or simply click here to schedule a free case consultation.