WHAT IS THE ANTERIOR CRUCIATE LIGAMENT (ACL)?
The Anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) is a ligament running from the posterior thigh bone (femur) anteriorly to the shin bone (tibia). Ligaments are strong tissues that connect one bone to the other. The ACL’s primary role is preventing the shin bone from sliding out in front of the thigh bone.
WHAT ARE RISK FACTORS FOR ACL INJURIES?
ACL injuries are one of the most common sports-related knee injuries. They are typically caused by plant and pivot or hyperextension mechanism. A tear can be partial or complete. It is estimated that around half of all ACL injuries occur in combination with damage to the meniscus, cartilage, or other ligaments. An ACL injury is often traumatic and thus typically requires immediate medical care.
ACL injuries typically occur during contact sports such as football or soccer when the athlete gets hit on one side of the knee. Other causes include overextension of the knee or movements that combine rapid stopping and changing directions such as landing from a basketball jump.
WHAT ARE THE SYMPTOMS?
- A ‘popping’ sound that occurs during the time of the injury
- Tenderness (from mild to significant depending on the grade of the injury)
- Swelling at the site of the injury
- Decreased range of motion or joint instability
WHAT ARE THE TREATMENT OPTIONS?
- RICE (Rest, Ice, Compression & Elevation) to reduce the swelling of the affected area
- Over-the-counter anti-inflammatories for pain management
- Exercise rehabilitation that focuses on regaining pre-injury strength, range-of-motion and stability.
- Immobilization of the knee through bracing
- Surgical treatment in case of complete tear and for tears in combination with injury to other knee structures