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What is an ACL Injury?

What is an ACL injury? An ACL injury is a sprain or tear of the Anterior Cruciate Ligament (ACL) — a strong band of tissue that helps connect the femur (thigh bone) to the tibia (shinbone). Usually, ACL injuries occur while engaging in sports that involve sudden stops/changes in direction, and jumping or landing, such as basketball, football, soccer, and downhill skiing.

ACL Injury Symptoms

The symptoms of an ACL injury include:

• A loud pop when the ACL injury occurred
• A “popping” sensation in the knee
• Inability to continue activity
• Rapid swelling
• Severe pain
• A feeling of instability when bearing weight
• Loss of range of motion

Causes of ACL Injury

Knee InjuryYour ACL is one of two ligaments (bands of tissue which connect one bone to another) which cross the middle of the knee. It connects the thighbone to the shinbone and helps stabilize the knee joint. ACL injuries usually happen during sports or fitness activities that put stress on the knee. Below are the common causes of ACL injuries.

• Stopping suddenly
• Suddenly slowing down and changing direction
• Pivoting with the foot firmly planted
• Having a collision (e.g., a football tackle) or receiving a direct blow to the knee
• Landing awkwardly from a jump

When the ligament is damaged, there may be a partial or complete tear of tissue. A mild injury might stretch your ligament, but leave it intact.

Risk Factors for ACL Injuries

BasketballBesides knowing what is an ACL injury, you should know the risk factors that could increase its possibility, such as:

• Participating in certain sports, such as basketball, football, soccer, gymnastics, or downhill skiing
• Poor conditioning
• Being female (possibly due to difference in muscle strength, anatomy, or hormonal influences)
• Using faulty movement patterns
• Wearing footwear that does not fit properly
• Playing on artificial turf
• Using poorly maintained sports equipment

ACL Injury Diagnosis

During the physical examination, the doctor will check the knee for tenderness and swelling. He/she may move your knee into different positions, assessing the range of motion and overall function of the joint.

Usually, a diagnosis can be made based on the physical exam, but tests may be needed to determine severity of the injury and rule out other causes. These tests may include:

• X-rays
• Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI)
• Ultrasound

Treatment for an ACL Injury

Prompt first aid can reduce pain and swelling after an injury to the knee. You can follow the R.I.C.E. model of self-care.

• Rest – Rest is necessary for healing. It also limits weight bearing on the knee.
• Ice – When you are awake, you can ice your knee at least every 2 hours (20 minutes at a time).
• Compression – Wrap an elastic bandage/compression wrap around the knee.
• Elevation – Lie down with the knee propped up on pillows.

Rehabilitation

Treatment for ACL injuries starts with several weeks of rehabilitative therapy. The physical therapist will teach you exercises that can be performed with continued supervision or at home. To avoid putting weight on the knee, you may wear a brace to stabilize the knee and use crutches for a while. The goals of rehabilitation are to reduce pain and swelling, restore the knee’s full range of movement, and strengthen muscles.

Surgery

The doctor may recommend surgery if:

• The fibrous cartilage or more than one ligament in the knee is injured
• The injury is causing the knee to buckle when doing everyday activities
• You’re an athlete and want to continue your sport (especially if it involves jumping/cutting/pivoting)

During ACL reconstruction, the surgeon will remove the damaged ligament and replace it with a segment of tendon or replacement tissue (graft). The surgeon can use a piece of tendon from your knee or a tendon from a donor.

After surgery, you will undergo another course of rehabilitative therapy. A successful ACL reconstruction, together with rigorous rehabilitation, usually can restore function to your knee.

How to Prevent ACL Injuries

Proper training and exercise can reduce the risk of ACL injuries. They include:

• Exercises to strengthen the core
• Proper warm-up before engaging in sports
• Exercises that strengthen leg muscles
• Training that emphasizes proper knee position and technique when jumping and landing
• Training to improve technique when pivoting and cutting

Conclusion

Consult your doctor and seek immediate care if you suffer an injury that shows signs and symptoms of an ACL injury. The knee is a complex structure of bones, tendons, ligaments, and tissues. It’s important, therefore, to get an accurate diagnosis and get proper treatment. Now that you know what is an ACL injury, you can take steps to prevent it from happening.

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Top 7 Health Benefits of Carrots

Did you know that the original carrot was small, forked, and was purple or yellow in color? It also had a bitter, woody flavor. It was not until the 16th century that Dutch growers developed the sweet and crunchy orange variety that is popular today. It’s the beta carotene that give carrots their orange color. But farmer’s markets and some specialty stores also offer carrots in other colors, including purple, red, and yellow. Well, enough of the trivia. We are here to discuss the top seven health benefits of carrots.

Health Benefits of Carrots

1. Good for Your Vision

Carrots are Good for Your VisionCarrots are a good source of vitamin A. A deficiency in vitamin A may result in xerophthalmia, a progressive eye disease that can develop into night blindness (difficulty seeing when the levels of light are low). So there’s some truth to the belief that this vegetable can help you see better in the dark.

Eating carrots is beneficial because a lack of vitamin A is one of the preventable causes of blindness in children. In addition, carrots contain the antioxidants zeaxanthin and lutein, the combination of which may help prevent age related macular degeneration (a type of vision loss).

2. May Reduce the Risk of Cancer

According to the National Cancer Institute, too many free radicals may increase the risk of some types of cancer. The antioxidant effects of dietary carotenoids (orange, yellow, and red organic pigments that can be found in carrots and other vegetables) may reduce this risk. Two examples of carotenoids are lutein and zeaxanthin.

Prostate cancer – A 2015 studies review suggested a link between a carotenoids-rich diet and a reduced risk of prostate cancer.

Leukemia – In 2011, researchers discovered that nutrients in carrot juice extract can kill leukemia cells and stop or slow their progression.

Lung cancer – In 2011, researchers found out that drinking carrot juice might help prevent the type of damage which leads to lung cancer in smokers. A 2008 meta-analysis meanwhile, revealed that participants with high intakes of carotenoids had a 21 % lower risk of lung cancer, compared to participants in control groups.

3. Digestive Health

Carrots May Improve Digestive HealthAccording to a 2014 research that gathered data from 893 people, consuming carotenoid-rich foods may reduce the risk of colon cancer. Another study reported that people who eat a high-fiber diet have a lower risk of colorectal cancer, compared to those who consume little fiber.

High-fiber foods promote gut health. A medium carrot contains 1.7 grams of fiber (5% to 7.6% of a person’s daily needs, depending on age). One cup of chopped carrots, meanwhile, provides 3.58 grams of fiber.

4. Diabetes Control

Carbohydrates make up about 10% of a carrot. About 30% of the carbohydrate content is fiber. A medium carrot contains 25 calories. Overall, a carrot is a low-calorie, high-fiber food that is low in sugar. It also scores low on the glycemic index or GI. The index can be used by people with diabetes to determine which foods are likely to raise blood sugar levels.

The GI score of boiled carrots is 39. This means that they’re unlikely to cause a blood sugar spike and are thus generally safe for diabetics to eat. Furthermore, authors of a 2018 review reported that eating a high-fiber diet might help prevent type 2 diabetes. High-fiber foods can also help people afflicted by type 2 diabetes better manage their blood sugar levels.

5. Blood Pressure and Cardiovascular Health

Blood Pressure MonitorThe fiber and potassium in carrots are good for cardiovascular health. The American Heart Association encourages people to consume less salt and eat more foods that contain potassium (like carrots). Potassium helps relax blood vessels, lowering the risk of high blood pressure (hypertension) and other cardiovascular issues. A medium carrot provides about 4% of a person’s daily requirement for potassium.

Meanwhile, a 2017 review reported that people who eat a high fiber diet are less likely to develop cardiovascular diseases than people who eat little fiber. Consuming lots of fiber may also help reduce levels of low density lipoprotein (also known as bad cholesterol) in the blood.

6. Immune Function and Healing

Vitamin C is one antioxidant that carrots provide. It contributes to collagen production. Collagen is a component of connective tissue and is essential for wound healing.

Vitamin C is also present in immune cells that help the body fight disease. When the immune system of a person is healthy, it may help prevent a range of diseases. If you are unwell, your immune system has to work harder. This may compromise vitamin C levels.

Experts believe that taking vitamin C may boost immune system function when it’s under stress. For example, consuming vitamin C may reduce the duration and severity of a cold.

7. Bone Health

Carrots contain vitamin K, calcium, and phosphorus. All of these are good for bone health and may also help prevent osteoporosis.

Conclusion

Carrots are a versatile vegetable. You can eat them raw, roasted, boiled, steamed, or as an ingredient in stews and soups. They are rich in vitamins, antioxidants, and other nutrients. Now that you know the health benefits of carrots, shouldn’t you start including them in your diet today?

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Hamstring Injury Symptoms, Causes, and Treatment

What is a hamstring injury? A hamstring injury occurs when a person strains or pulls one of the hamstring muscles – a group of 3 muscles which run along the back of the thigh (from the hip to just below the knee). The hamstring muscles make it possible to contract the leg and bend the knee. When any of those muscles stretch beyond their limit during physical activities, injury can result. Read this article to learn more about hamstring injury symptoms, causes, and treatment.

Who Are Susceptible to Hamstring Injury?

Woman Playing TennisA person is more susceptible to a hamstring injury if he/she plays basketball, football, tennis, soccer, or other sports that involve sprinting, sudden stops, and starts. A hamstring injury can also occur more commonly in runners and dancers.

Causes of Hamstring Injury

A hamstring injury can occur if:

• You don’t warm up before exercising.
• The muscles in the front of the thigh (quadriceps) are tight as they pull the pelvis forward and tighten your hamstrings.
• You have weak glutes. The glutes and hamstrings work together. If your glutes are weak, the hamstrings may be overloaded and become strained.

Hamstring Injury Symptoms

Hamstring InjuryMild hamstring strain may not hurt too much. But severe injuries can be agonizing, making it impossible or painful to walk or stand. The symptoms of a hamstring injury include:

• Sudden and severe pain, along with a snapping/popping feeling,
• Pain in the back of the thigh when walking, bending over, or straightening the leg,
• Swelling,
• Bruising,
• Tenderness,
• Discoloration along the back of the leg,
• Muscle weakness, and
• Inability to put weight on the injured leg.

Diagnosis

To diagnose a hamstring injury, a doctor will give a thorough physical examination. He or she will ask specific questions on how the leg was injured. During the physical examination, the doctor will check swelling or points of tenderness on the back of the thigh. The location and intensity of the pain can help determine the extent of the damage.

The doctor might also move the injured leg into various positions to pinpoint which muscle was injured and determine if you have any ligament or tendon damage.

Imaging Tests

In a severe hamstring injury, the muscle can tear or detach from where it is connected to the pelvis or tibia (lower leg bone). In some cases, a small piece of bone can be pulled away (this is known as an avulsion fracture) from the main bone where the detachment occurs. X-rays can be used to check for avulsion fractures. Ultrasound and MRI, meanwhile, can visualize tears in the muscles and tendons.

Hamstring Injury Treatment

Minor to moderate hamstring strains may heal on their own. To speed up healing, you can:

• Rest your leg – If possible, avoid putting weight on your leg. If the pain is severe, you might need crutches until it goes away. The doctor will advise you if they are needed.

• Ice your leg – Do this to reduce pain and swelling. Do it for 20 to 30 minutes every 3 to 4 hours for 2 to 3 days.

• Elevate your leg – When you’re sitting or lying down, elevate your leg on a pillow.

• Take anti-inflammatory painkillers – Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs or NSAIDs such as ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin) or naproxen (Aleve, Naprosyn) can help reduce pain and swelling. That said, these drugs can have side effects, such as an increased risk of ulcers. NSAIDs should be used only short term, unless a doctor says otherwise.

In more severe cases wherein the muscle is torn, surgery may be necessary. The doctor/surgeon will repair the affected muscles and reattach them.

Conclusion

Self-care measures such as ice, rest, and over-the-counter pain medications are usually all that are needed to relieve the pain and swelling of a hamstring injury. But in some cases, surgery may be needed to repair the hamstring muscle or tendon. We hope that this article about hamstring injury symptoms, causes, and treatment can help you avoid hamstring injuries when doing sports or other physical activities. If you have any questions about hamstring injuries, consult your doctor.

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