What is an ACL Tear?
An ACL tear occurs when there is a tear to the ACL or Anterior Cruciate Ligament. An ACL tear or torn ACL, is suffered when the ligament tears from either the end of the femur or from the top of the tibia. The ACL is one of four ligaments that help stabilize the knee joint and prevent it from moving out of place. An ACL tear is one of the most commonly seen knee injuries in sports such as football, soccer, basketball, golf, cheerleading and baseball. The main job of the ACL is to prevent forward movement of the tibia and works in conjunction with the PCL to help stabilize the knee in high contact sports, as well as those where sudden changes in direction are required. In most cases an ACL tear occurs when the foot is planted on the ground and the knee is suddenly twisted causing the ligaments to stretch and potentially tear. Following a torn ACL, it is vitally important to fit yourself with the proper brace to help provide the stability that you will need in the knee and to prevent further damage. Please note that an ACL tear is more likely to be suffered by a female than a male.
Medical Definition of an ACL Tear
The anterior cruciate ligament, also known as the ACL, is a primary stabilizer of the knee joint. An ACL tear is typically caused from a twisting or hyperextension force applied to the knee joint that overcomes the strength of the ligament. Although partial tears can occur, injuries involving the ACL more often result in complete tears and about half of the time an ACL tear is accompanied by a torn meniscus. An ACL tear also can occur in association with a MCL tear and in rare instances it may be associated with a PCL tear. In rare cases where there is an injury to multiple ligaments, there may be an injury to the popliteal artery and result in a limb-threatening emergency.
- Anterior Cruciate Ligament Tear
- Torn ACL
- Torn cruciate
What are the symptoms of an ACL Tear?
- Sudden pain and giving out of the knee related to a twisting or hyperextension injury.
- 1/3 of individuals with an ACL tear report that they heard a pop.
- If in athletic activity the injury will typically prevent the athlete from participating.
- Pain will begin to increase over the first 24 hours following the injury due to bleeding into the joint.
- Instability of the knee following the injury which eventually leads to surgical intervention.
- Torn Meniscus
- MCL Tear
- PCL Tear
- LCL Tear
Treatment of ACL Tear
- Initial ACL tear treatment following injury should include R.I.C.E. principles.
- Following a torn ACL you should utilize crutches until you are able to walk without limp.
- Knee brace may help mobilize the knee to prevent additional painful symptoms.
- Early range of motion exercises performed for several minutes, 4-5 times a day.
- Surgical intervention is typically required following an ACL tear.
- Proper usage of NSAIDS to help alleviate any painful symptoms.
- ACL Surgery
- Knee Arthroscopy
- How to Rehab Your Knee After ACL Surgery
- The Best Ways to Prevent Knee Injuries
Greene W.B. (Ed). (2001). Essentials of Musculoskeletal Care.Rosemont, IL: American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons (360-362)