In sports one of the most feared injuries is the tearing of the ACL (anterior cruciate ligame), which, in an instant, end a career. A torn ACL is extremely painful and it can be debilitating for several months. In some cases, that debilitation will last a lifetime.
About 80 percent of sports related ACL tears are non-contact injuries. Most of these injuries will occur when the athlete either pivots or lands from a jump. The knee ‘gives out’ on the athlete and the result is the ACL. Sometimes other ligaments are also torn. With every step taken the athlete’s knee will absorb and diffuse the equivalent of 8-10 times the body weight.
We will define pain as an unpleasant sensory experience that can be both physical and emotional. The central nerve system and the peripheral nervous system are an integrated system that will provide a pathway that the pain is able to travel along. There are pain receptors on the peripheral end plates.
The sensation associated with peripheral pain begins in affeociceptors. There are two types of these neurons that can be stimulated by thermal, mechanical, hormonal, serotonin stimuli and chemical.
The Delta fibers and the C fibers
The Pain Management of Your ACL Injury
The treatment regime for a knee injury like an ACL injury should be individualized. The Pain Management should be specific to the severity of your injury. RICE therapy (Rest, Ice, Compression and Elevation) and heat therapy.
Initially the object is to reduce the swelling and pain occurring in the knee, and then to return normal joint movement and strengthen the knee’s muscles. In addition, often opiates are other medications are used as part of the pain management regime.
After that, your doctor and you will need to decide whether the best course of action is for you to go to rehabilitation or whether you should have surgery. There are a number of factors to consider including how damaged your knee is. People who are more sedentary that don’t have significant cartilage damage or ligament damage can generally maintain their knee’s stability. However, those who are highly active, like athletes, may find that they are unable to provide the necessary stability to the knee.
Part of the pain management and treatment of ACL will include rehabilitation, whether you have surgery or not. This therapy may include you using crutches or wearing a knee brace. You will work on range of motion and strengthening the muscles as well as improving stability.
If you have a torn ACL it can be sewn back together. The ligament is generally replaced with a piece of tendon from somewhere else in your knee. A tendon graft can also be done from a deceased donor. The surgery usually involves two small incisions around your knee joint using a fiber optic viewing scope.