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ACL tear

​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​The anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) is one of the most commonly injured ligaments of the knee.

The ACL is one of the four main ligaments within the knee that connect the femur to the tibia. The ACL runs diagonally in the middle of the knee, preventing the tibia from sliding out in front of the femur as well as providing rotational stability to the knee.

Immediately after an injury to the ACL, a person will usually experience pain and swelling and the knee feels unstable. Within a few hours after a new ACL injury, patients often have a large amount of knee swelling, a loss of full range of motion, pain or tenderness along the joint line and discomfort while walking.

Treatments

Treatment options for ACL injuries include both operative and non-operative treatments. 

Non-Surgical

Non-surgical treatment is typically reserved for lower demand individuals who are not involved in regular cutting or pivoting-type activities. Physical therapy and home exercise can help restore knee motion and function with low demand activities. 

Surgery

The goal of ACL reconstruction surgery is to prevent instability and restore the function of the torn ligament, creating a stable knee. The surgery, either done arthroscopically or open, uses a strip of tendon that is passed through the inside of the joint and secured to the thighbone and shinbone. The grafts commonly used to replace the ACL include:

  • Patellar tendon autograft (autograft comes from the patient)
  • Hamstring tendon autograft
  • Quadriceps tendon autograft
  • Allograft (taken from a cadaver) patellar tendon or Achilles tendon

Surgery is usually followed by an exercise and rehabilitation program to strengthen the muscles and restore full joint mobility.​

Preventive tip

When playing sports, wear shoes designed for the surface you’re playing or running on, such as a track or tennis court. It will help prevent injury.​

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If this is a medical emergency, call 911.

Call: 1-866-520-2510

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 ACL Injuries Video

What Do You Know About Knee Injury?

Your knees are complex joints and that makes them vulnerable to injury. Learning how to prevent knee injuries and treating them if they occur can help you stay active at work and play. Test your knowledge of knees by taking this quiz, based on information from the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons.

1. Ligaments connect muscles to bones.
2. The knee has 7 ligaments.
3. You may hear a popping sound when a knee ligament is injured.
4. The anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) is most often injured by lifting something heavy.
5. Which test is NOT used to diagnose a knee ligament injury?
6. A knee ligament can be repaired with a surgery called:
7. The ACL can be rebuilt with a piece of your own knee or leg tendon.

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