Knee injuries are extremely common. These ailments occur when muscles, tendons, cartilage, or ligaments are damaged. Osteoarthritis is the most common knee disease, in which the cartilage is gradually worn away. In regards to injuries, torn ligaments are one of the most common knee injury causes – with the ACL & MCL in particular. The number of children and teenagers with serious knee injuries is rising and health officials have declared it a “significant public health issue.” If you suspect that you have damaged a knee ligament, here’s what you need to know about tearing your ACL & MCL.
What are Your ACL & MCL?
Ligaments are strong bands of tissue that connect bones to one another. There are four ligaments that stabilize the knee by connecting the femur (thigh bone) to the tibia (shin bone). These crucial ligaments work together in pairs to secure the knee from all sides.
The anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) and the posterior cruciate ligament (PCL) cross over one another to create an “X” shape. This prevents the knee joint from sliding forwards or backwards. Meanwhile, the medial collateral ligament (MCL) and lateral collateral ligament (LCL) protect the knee from buckling by preventing the knee from moving side-to-side.
Tearing Your ACL
A tear of the knee anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) is one of the most commonly occurring injuries in sports. These injuries result from quick changes of direction, sudden stops or jumps. A tear can typically be determined by an audible “pop” of the knee, swelling, and immense pain.
Diagnosis of a torn ACL can usually be determined by a physical examination. A physician will move the knee to assess the range of motion and whether the overall function is impaired. However, there are several other tests that may be used to determine the severity of the tear and whether any surrounding structures were damaged.
A minor tear might only require rest and physical rehabilitation, while some injuries are severe enough to require surgery. The purpose of rehabilitation is to strengthen the muscles enough to restore a full range of motion. This reduces swelling and pain in injured joints. Physical therapy may prove effective enough a treatment for those who don’t participate in vigorous physical activity.
Arthroscopic surgery is usually recommended for athletes who intend to continue playing or if multiple ligaments or cartilage is damaged. Paired with physical rehabilitation, athletes can return to their sports as early as 8 to 12 months.
Tearing Your MCL
Medial collateral ligaments tears occur when the outer edge of the knee is hit hard, like when athletes collide with one another. The impacted knee will stretch the MCL, which will tear if the knee is pushed too far beyond its limit or suddenly twisted. Football, hockey, and other high-contact sports players are at the highest risk of receiving MCL injuries.
MCL injuries are extremely painful. They can be categorized by the feeling of joints being “loose” or physically displaced. While one may be able to walk after sustaining an MCL injury, the knee feels unstable and may catch during movement. Diagnosing a torn MCL will involve a doctor pushing on the knee to determine how severe the strain or tear is. There are three grades of an MCL injury, ranging from a grade 1 (least severe) to a grade 3 (most severe). MRI’s, X-rays and stress X-rays are common visual scans performed to determine the severity.
An MCL sprain, a milder version of the injury, can often be healed on its own by keeping weight off of it and compressing the joint with a knee brace. Anti-inflammatory drugs, such as aspirin or ibuprofen, may be prescribed to reduce swelling. A severe MCL injury might take months to recover, but it rarely requires surgery to heal. Physical therapy is sufficient to heal a torn MCL by strengthening the leg muscles.
If you have injured your knee in the Southern California area, visit a walk-in clinic that is part of UrgentMED today! The friendly staff can determine whether you have a torn ACL or MCL. You will be on the road to recovery in no time.
The heart rate is a measurement of the number of times a heart beats per minute (bpm). A heart rate that is higher or lower than the determined healthy range could be an indication of a heart condition or other health issue. The healthy resting heart rate (a.k.a. normal heart rate) for men and women is between 50 and 70 bpm. Lower resting rates usually indicate that the heart is working more efficiently. Slower heart rates have been shown to have statistically lower chances of having cardiovascular disease.
There are also non-health factors that can affect heart rate: whether an individual is sitting or standing, their emotional state, or the air temperature around them. Heart rates are expected to fluctuate, but any rates consistently beyond the approved range could be a cause for concern. If the heart rate rises suddenly without obvious cause or feelings of dizziness occur, contact a medical professional immediately.
How to Determine Your Heart Rate
Fortunately, there is a very simple method for detecting your own heart rate. Hold two fingers to the strongest pulse points and record the number of beats within 60 seconds.
The best places for pulse detection are:
- Side of the neck
- Inside the elbow
- Top of the foot
Slow Heart Rate
Heart rates can be on the lower end without concern if the individual is physically fit, sleeping, or on a medication like a beta blocker. However, if a heart rate is slower than 50 bpm for reasons other than those listed, it is considered to have bradycardia, which means “slow heart.” This can indicate heart disease (heart attack), Lyme disease, typhoid fever, hyperkalemia or an underactive thyroid gland. One should also be concerned if one is unable to raise their heart rate even while exercising.
Fast Heart Rate
Rigorous exercise, stimulants (like caffeine or cocaine), or being in an excited state are all normal causes for an accelerated heart rate. Pregnancy and dehydration are physical conditions that will also cause the heart rate to rise. Tachycardia is the condition where the heart is beating too quickly (above 100 bpm). This condition may show no symptoms, but if untreated can cause heart complications and irreversible abnormalities.
Doctors recommend cardiovascular activity to help slow a fast heart rate. Increased exercise strengthens the heart and improves the normal heart rate by helping this vital organ to function more efficiently. When the heart doesn’t have to work as hard to supply blood cells with oxygen, the heart rate will slow. The American Heart Association states the maximum heart rate should never exceed 200 bpm. This maximum number decreases with age. A 20-year-old adult’s maximum heart rate is 200 bpm, compared to a 50-year-old’s maximum being 170 bpm.
Monitoring your heart rate is important. Your heartbeat serves as a reliable indicator of your fitness level and overall health. Luckily, it can easily be determined with your own fingers and a stopwatch. Contact a medical professional if you are concerned that you don’t have a normal heart rate. If your beats per minute are lower than 50 bpm or higher than 100 bpm, visit one of our clinics that is part of UrgentMED. The caring and knowledgeable medical staff can provide a quick examination in the Los Angeles area – where walk-ins are always welcome.