An ACL injury is a tear to the anterior cruciate ligament, The ACL, the Posterior Cruciate Ligament (PCL), Medial Collateral Ligament (MCL) and Lateral Collateral Ligament (LCL) are the four main stabilising ligaments of the knee .
The ACL attaches to the knee end of the Femur (thigh bone), at the back of the joint and passes down through the knee joint to the front of the flat upper surface of the Tibia (shin bone). It passes across the knee joint in a diagonal direction and with the PCL passing in the opposite direction, forms a cross shape, hence the name cruciate ligaments.
This ligament is vitally important to the stability of the knee joint as it prevents forward movement of the Tibia from underneath the femur , especially in contact sports and those that involve fast changes in direction and twisting and pivoting movements.
What causes an ACL tear?
When a twisting force is being applied to the knee whilst the foot is firmly planted on the ground or upon landing, an injury can occurs. An injury can also be formed as a result of a direct blow to the knee, usually the outside, as may occur during a football tackle.
Anterior cruciate ligament injuries are more common in females with between 2 and 8 times more females suffering a rupture than males.
What are the symptoms?
You may hear an audible pop or crack at the time of injury.
You will feel extreme pain and is marked with extensive swelling.
You will experience restricted movement, especially an inability to fully straighten the leg.
What can you do?
Stop the activity or competition immediately.
Apply RICE (Rest, Ice, Compression, Elevation) to the knee and seek medical attention immediately.
How is ACL tear treated?
An assessment from the doctor can determine if you are suffering froma torn ACL and other additional injuries. Medical imaging such as an MRI scan or X-ray may be necessary.
If required, the doctor may refer for ACL Surgery. which involves either repairing or reconstructing the anterior cruciate ligament.
Physiotherapy may be recommended to help you prepare for surgery and produce the best results following surgery . Pre-surgery rehabilitation will help to strengthen the knee and reduce the swelling.