The Anterior Cruciate Ligament, also called the ACL, is one of the four major ligaments of the knee. The ACL prevents excessive motion of the knee joint. Often injured, and many times requiring surgery, ACL injuries can cause significant problems. There are many ways to injure an ACL–most often with sports injuries.

How do you know you’ve torn your ACL??

Apart from the yelp of pain….??

An ACL tear most often occurs during sports or athletic events. About 80% of ACL tears occur without contact with another athlete. The injury usually occurs with a twisting or pivoting movement common in most sports. Picture a player in a football game for instance….  the player gets the ball and needs to play it back up field.  He stands on his left leg, ball at his right foot.   He twists on the left knee to turn the ball, he hears a ‘Pop’, the left knee gives way and there is a lot of pain.  OUCHHHH!!

Most people are surprised at how loud this ‘pop’ can be, and many bystanders have heard this from the sideline of a game. Even if you don’t hear the pop, usually people will feel the sudden shift in the joint.  And oh, how they feel it!!  You can see some patients have an ACL tear happen with even simple movements though, while walking or getting in/out of a car.

Another major symptom is the knee becoming very unstable.  The ACL is vital to the stability of the knee joint, so when an ACL tear occurs, the knee ‘gives way’.

You will get swelling and pain in almost all patients with an ACL tear. This swelling is usually quite large, and occurs within minutes of the injury.  The swelling is the blood filling the knee joint which is the body’s natural way of trying to stop you moving an injured area.  The ACL has a blood vessel within the ligament that is torn at the time of injury, causing the knee to fill with blood.

Check out this video for a clearer picture…

Soooo…. If you hear the ‘POP” make sure you STOP!   It’s likely to be an ACL tear but best to get it seen to as soon as possible by a good Physical Therapist. (Like me!)

Bye for now!