You may have heard about anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) injuries and how they often affect professional sports players. While these kinds of injuries are much more common in adults, kids can still suffer from this injury. Kids who play a lot of contacts and high-impact sports are at a much higher risk.
If you or your child suspect that they have an ACL injury, it is important to get it checked out as soon as possible. Read on to find out more about the causes, symptoms, prevention of ACL injuries in kids.
What Is an ACL and How Do People Injure It?
The anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) is located behind the kneecap, and it plays a vital role in stabilizing the knee joint as it rotates. The ACL is also one of the longest ligaments in the body, connecting the thigh bone to the shin bone. As a result, it can be put under a great deal of strain if you are repeatedly overstretching or making sudden movements.
Every year in the USA, over 200,000 people suffer from an ACL injury of some kind. In recent years, the number of children and teenagers getting ACL injuries has increased. Typically, women are more likely to injure their ACL than men, but anyone who plays a lot of sports stands a chance of tearing or damaging the ligament.
Kids who play sports that involve a lot of contact or sudden changes in direction are more at risk. ACL injuries are quite common in the following sports:
Symptoms of an ACL Injury
The symptoms of an ACL injury depend on the severity of the damage. In some cases, your child might have very mild symptoms. However, in general, the symptoms of an ACL injury usually include:
- Sudden knee pain
- A popping noise in the knee around the time of the injury
- Inflammation of the knee joint
- A decrease in the range of movement
- Feelings of instability or weakness in the knee
As with all other kinds of sports injuries, it is essential to stop playing and rest if you notice any discomfort or decrease in range of motion.
- Training— the number of young athletes suffering from ACL injuries has been steadily increasing in recent years. As a result, many schools and team coaches are placing a greater emphasis on technique and strengthening exercises. Yoga and stretches are great ways to strengthen the muscles and the core, while other activities focus on protecting the body through proper positioning and movement techniques.
- Warm Up— it is important that you warm-up and cool down properly before doing any sport. Warming up helps to loosen the muscles and ligaments, making it less likely to get an injury.
- Use the Correct Gear — wearing good-quality and properly fitting sports shoes can help support the whole body, provide shock absorption, and aid overall balance while playing.
If you need more information on how to support the young athletes in your family, speak with your doctor or team coach.