BREAKING NEWS. Chelsea’s medical team have diagnosed Kurt Zouma’s injury as a torn anterior cruciate ligament (ACL), meaning he will be out for approximately six months. Zouma will undergo surgery in a London hospital within the next 48 hours. The 21-year-old Frenchman sustained the injury during a fall against Manchester United on Sunday. The news comes as a massive blow to Chelsea’s hopes of winning the Champions League and FA Cup.
How Bad Is A Torn ACL?
No diagnosis in the world of football can strike more fear into a player, manager or fan than the letters ACL. Whether you’re a doctor or not, we all know that an ACL injury means bad news.
WHAT IS IT?
The ACL is one of the four major ligaments of the knee. It is situated on the inside of the joint, with one end of the ligament connecting to the thigh bone, and the other attached to the shin.
WHY IS IT SO IMPORTANT?
The ACL basically has one function which is to keep the lower leg from sliding in a forward direction (in case you were wondering, the PCL keeps it from going backwards). For athletes, the ACL acts as the stability mechanism in the knee joint, preventing it from shifting abruptly in side-to-side movements. In professional football, it is everything.
Without a functioning ACL, the knee is extremely volatile in lateral movements. Although athletes can still technically move forward and backwards, it makes playing sport near impossible.
WHO’S AT RISK OF AN ACL TEAR?
Technically, anyone. However, athletes involved in contact sports like football and rugby face the greatest risk of an ACL injury.
HOW DO YOU INJURE IT?
The most common cause is a direct blow to the leg or a sudden twist of the leg.
WHAT IS THE PROGNOSIS?
After surgery, the patient will rehab anywhere between 3-12 months. 3 month recoveries are extremely rare and the typical time out is usually 6-9 months. The length of recovery is dependent upon factors such as the graft used, the sport played, leg strength and flexibility. In Zouma’s case, he will likely start rehabilitation 1-3 days after surgery, beginning with simple actions like increasing his range of motion and muscle strengthening. In the week after surgery, patients can barely lift their leg.
Gradually, the patient will work up to weights and finally, his or her professional sport.