What is an ACL injury?
An ACL injury – or an anterior cruciate ligament injury – occurs when the major ligament between your thighbone and shinbone is torn, usually due to participating in sports that involve sudden changes in direction or high speeds and sudden stops. The most common activities that lead to ACL injuries include basketball and soccer, but can also include other high-impact sports. This type of injury is usually painful and debilitating, requiring extensive rehabilitation and recovery time.
What causes an ACL injury?
An injury to the ACL band in the knee is usually the product of fitness activities and sports that put extreme pressure on the joint. Sports that cause the most ACL injuries include the following:
During these sports, one of the below actions usually triggers the ACL tear:
Quickly changing directions
Pivoting on the ball of your foot
Jumping and incorrectly landing
Hitting the knee or leg directly (football tackle or soccer slide)
What are the symptoms of an ACL injury?
Symptoms that indicate an ACL injury and may warrant a visit to Performance Health for a consultation include any of the following:
Severe knee pain
Knee “gives out” when walking or putting weight on it
Inability to walk or put pressure on knee
“Pop” in knee during injury
Knee swelling within a couple hours of injury
Inability to move leg in full range of motion
What are the risk factors for an ACL injury?
An ACL injury can happen to anyone, but the following situations can increase your chances of suffering from this condition:
Gender – Women are more likely than men to suffer from a torn ACL.
Jumping technique – Athletes who land with improper jumping techniques have a much higher risk of injury.
Muscle structure – The way your knee and surrounding muscles are structured may increase your risk of knee injury.
How is an ACL injury diagnosed?
At Performance Health, your knee injury is evaluated by one of our experienced doctors, who will compare your injured knee to your uninjured knee, as well as ask you questions and have you move the knee to assess your range of motion. When necessary, the following additional diagnostic tests may also be needed to help diagnose an ACL injury:
How is an ACL injury treated?
The following conservative treatment options may be used for an ACL injury when possible:
Elevating the joint