Anterior Cruciate Ligament Injury

Anterior Cruciate Ligament Injury

(ACL Injury)

Pronounced: an-TEER-ee-or KROO-shee-ate ligament

Definition

An anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) injury is a partial or full tear of the tough band of fibers that connects the lower leg bone to the thigh bone.

Anterior Cruciate Ligament Injury

ACL injury
Copyright © Nucleus Medical Media, Inc.

Causes

ACL injury is caused by excess force on the knee. This may be from:

  • Twisting the knee
  • Landing hard after jumping
  • Sudden stops or changes in direction
  • A direct blow to the knee

Risk Factors

This problem in more common in young athletes. It is also more common in athletes who are female. Some sports that may raise the risk are skiing, snowboarding, soccer, and basketball.

Other things that may raise the risk are:

  • Abnormal foot structure
  • Poor flexibility and strength
  • Slow reaction time
  • Strength, flexibility, and coordination differences between the right and left leg
  • Playing on uneven or wet surfaces
  • Wearing shoes that are not right for the playing surface

Symptoms

An injury to the ACL may cause:

  • A popping sound at the time of the injury
  • Pain and swelling in the knee
  • Loss of full range of motion
  • Weakness or instability in the knee
  • Problems walking

Diagnosis

The doctor will ask about your symptoms, past health, and how the injury happened. A physical exam will be done. It will focus on the knee.

The doctor may suspect an ACL injury based on symptoms. Images may be done to confirm it. This can be done with:

Treatment

The ACL does not heal on its own. The first steps will be to ease pain and swelling. This can be done with rest, ice, medicine, and elevating the leg.

Active people under 35 years of age may need surgery. It will remake the ACL with tissue from other areas of the body or from donor tissue.

Older adults who are not as active may not need surgery, especially if the knee is stable. Exercises may be given to strengthen the muscles around the knee.

Prevention

The risk of an ACL injury may be lowered by:

  • Stretching and strengthening the muscles around the knee
  • Wearing proper footwear

RESOURCES:

OrthoInfo—American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons
http://orthoinfo.org
Sports Med—American Orthopaedic Society for Sports Medicine
http://www.sportsmed.org

CANADIAN RESOURCES:

Canadian Orthopaedic Association
http://www.coa-aco.org
Canadian Orthopaedic Foundation
http://www.canorth.org

References:

American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons (AAOS). Evidence-based clinical practice guideline for management of anterior cruciate ligament injuries. AAOS 2014 Sep 5.
Anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) injury. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: https://www.dynamed.com/condition/anterior-cruciate-ligament-acl-injury. Accessed March 27, 2021.
Anterior cruciate ligament injuries. Ortho Info—American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons website. Available at:
...(Click grey area to select URL)
Accessed March 27, 2021.
ACL Injury: Does It Require Surgery? American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons website. Available at:
...(Click grey area to select URL)
Accessed March 27, 2021.
Last reviewed February 2021 by EBSCO Medical Review Board Teresa Briedwell, PT, DPT, OCS, CSCS
Last Updated: 3/27/2021

EBSCO Information Services is fully accredited by URAC. URAC is an independent, nonprofit health care accrediting organization dedicated to promoting health care quality through accreditation, certification and commendation.

This content is reviewed regularly and is updated when new and relevant evidence is made available. This information is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with questions regarding a medical condition.

To send comments or feedback to our Editorial Team regarding the content please email us at healthlibrarysupport@ebsco.com. Our Health Library Support team will respond to your email request within 2 business days.

Home |Terms and Conditions |Concerned About Privacy? |Accessibility |Careers |For Employers and Medical Plan Providers

You may also be looking for: CVS/pharmacy | MinuteClinic | Specialty Pharmacy | SilverScript | Accordant