An Anterior Cruciate Ligament (ACL) tear, one of the most common knee injuries to occur, regularly lands people in the surgical theatre. I recently read the abstract on a five-month study substituting manual therapy for surgical treatment. The study resulted in complete restitution of the ACL. Very exciting and promising to people who prefer to avoid the knife.
But first, let me explain what we are referring to when we say ACL.
Anatomy of the Knee
The knee joint is the result of three bones meeting: the femur (your thigh bone), the “shinbone” (the tibia-the larger of the two bones in your lower leg) and the kneecap (patella).
Ligaments are fibrous rope-like connective tissue bands that connect bone to bone. Their job is to stabilize the bones in place, so there is not much give-and-take with ligaments.
There are four primary ligaments in your knee:
- Collateral Ligaments. The medial collateral ligament (MCL) is on the inside side of your knee; the lateral collateral ligament (LCL) is on the outside. Their job is to control and protect the sideways motion of your knees.
- Cruciate Ligaments – live inside the knee joint, crossing one another to form an “X”. The anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) is in front, connecting the patella to the tibia; the posterior cruciate ligament (PCL), in the back. They control the back and forth motion of your knee. The ACL also prevents the tibia from sliding out in front of the femur and provides rotational stability to the knee.
Injuries to ligaments are called sprains and are graded according to severity.
- Grade 1 Sprain. Mild damage to the ligament. It’s been stretched, but is still able to stabilize the knee joint.
- Grade 2 Sprain. The ligament has been stretched to the point where it is now loose. This is sometimes referred to as a partial tear.
- Grade 3 Sprain. The ligament has been torn in two. The joint is unstable. This is known as a complete tear.
High demand sports like soccer, football, running or basketball are more likely to incur sprains or tears in the ACL. Unfortunately for women, our incidence of ACL injuries is higher than that of men. Sorry.
Damage to these important ligaments can happen in many ways:
- Changing direction rapidly
- Stopping suddenly
- Slowing down when running
- Landing from a jump incorrectly
- Direct collision
People often report hearing a “popping” noise from the knee and a sense of the knee giving out from under them. Other symptoms include pain with swelling, loss of full range of motion and/or discomfort when walking.
The medical profession treats ACL damage in a number of ways: anti-inflammatory medications, knee brace, physical therapy and surgery.
Until reading the study I referenced in the opening paragraph of this post, I was unaware of manual therapy being able to cure a grade 3 (total tear) in the ACL.
After reading it though, I was reminded of the numerous times I have given Thai Foot Reflexology to people with knee pain; how they felt so much better afterwards and could move around with less or no accompanying pain or restrictions in the knees.
I remember specifically one woman in particular. She had put off her inevitable knee replacement surgery for as long as she could and called me when she found herself restricted to her bed, unable to walk at all. She was still weeks away from her appointment and asked whether I might be able to help her. I replied honestly and said I did not know, but was willing to give Thai Foot Reflexology a try, if she was.
I explained that in the session I would work on her feet, lower legs and knees, with the intent to move stagnant energy trapped within the sen lines (energy pathways) of her body. I hoped that perhaps that might bring her some relief while she was waiting.
We set up the appointment. Since she could not travel, I went to her home. Since she wasn’t mobile, I did the session on her bed.
Following the session, she reported feeling very relaxed and in less pain. The big surprise came the next day though, when she called to say that she was able to get out of bed and walk (with the aid of a walker), something she had not been able to do for days.
Needless to say, we were both elated. I continued to give her Thai Foot Reflexology sessions twice/week until her surgery, and was thrilled that I had something to offer that brought some relief and hope to a fellow human being. I LOVE WHAT I DO!
Upcoming Thai Foot Reflexology trainings.