ACL Injuries Not Uncommon

If you follow sports, you likely heard the latest news about Derrick Rose, the Chicago Bulls leading scorer, sitting out the next 8-12 months following his anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) surgery.

The 23-year-old point guard went down with just 80 seconds left of the first game of the Bulls’ Eastern Conference quarterfinals series against the Philadelphia 76ers.


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He’s not alone. Several NBA stars have experienced the same injury during this compressed season. But it’s not just NBA stars who are susceptible.

“There are two types of injuries – contact and non-contact,” said Brett Wolters, MD with the Orthopedic Group at Springfield Clinic and Memorial SportsCare. “A contact injury occurs when somebody’s hit from one direction to another. A non-contact injury typically occurs when someone extends their knee in an awkward position or lands funny.”

The ACL is one of four major ligaments in the knee. Injuries typically occur during sports that involve rotational movement like basketball and soccer or contact sports like football. But that doesn’t mean it can’t also happen falling in the parking lot or slipping in the shower. Chances are you’ll know if you’ve injured your ACL.

  • Signs of an ACL Injury include:
  • a loud “pop” sound
  • moderate to intense pain
  • continued knee swelling

Recovery can typically be anywhere from two to 12 months depending on the severity of the injury.

“Women are more likely to suffer non-contact injuries because they have a strength imbalance,” Dr. Wolters said. “Muscles at the front of the thigh are stronger than those in the back. So women may land in a position that increases stress on the ACL.”

Contact injuries can’t be prevented. However, Dr. Wolters recommends several measures for preventing and rehabilitating from non-contact injuries. Sports enhancement training, fitness programs and ACL Bridge programs are among those options to name a few.

  • These SportsCare programs can:
  • help increase your strength as well as improve balance
  • provide you with proper training techniques like jumping and landing safely
  • educate you on the best equipment for your sport like a good pair of running shoes

If you’re an athlete or have kids who are, talk to your primary care physician about ACL injury prevention. If necessary, your family doctor can refer you to an orthopedic surgeon for an evaluation.

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