Anterior Cruciate Ligament Injury (ACL Tear)

The Anterior Cruciate Ligament (ACL) is one of the four main ligaments in the knee.

What is it?

This injury is a tearing of the ACL ligament in the knee joint. The ACL ligament is one of the bands of tissue that connects the femur to the tibia. The ACL prevents back to front movement of the tibia (shin bone) with respect to the femur (thigh bone). It also provides rotational stability of the knee. It is the most commonly torn ligament in the knee and is most frequently torn during athletic activities. A large majority of ACL injuries occur in noncontact situations and often result from rapid movements such as changing direction or stopping quickly. The ACL is important not only to provide stability to the knee while running, cutting, and jumping, but it also provides stability during daily activities as well. Many simple daily tasks do not require an ACL, and many people can play recreational sports without an ACL, however an ACL-deficient knee is at higher risk for meniscus tears and cartilage injury in the future. If torn, the ACL can be replaced during arthroscopic surgery in what is known as an ACL reconstruction.

What causes it?

An ACL tear can be painful. It can cause the knee to become unstable. An ACL tear usually occurs during athletic activity. The ACL can tear during abrupt movements such as sudden stops, pivots or directional changes. The ACL can also tear when a person jumps and lands awkwardly. In some cases, ACL tears are caused by a traumatic injury such as a vehicular accident or a violent tackle. 

Signs and symptoms

A common symptom of an ACL tear is a popping sound or sensation in the knee at the moment of injury. The knee may be vary painful, and it may swell. The person may be unable to continue physical activity. 

Non-Surgical treatment

In some cases, an ACL tear can be treated conservatively in patients who have a low activity level. Non-surgical options may include crutches, a knee brace, and strengthening and stability exercises.

Surgical treatment

For active patients, surgery and rehabilitation are commonly required. 

At The Knee Center at Andrews Sports Medicine, our fellowship-trained non-surgical physicians and orthopaedic surgeons provide the most-advanced, comprehensive treatment solutions for injuries and disorders of the knee. To schedule an appointment, call (205) 939-3699.

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