The anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) is one of the four main stabilising ligaments of the knee.
The role of the ACL is to prevent forward movement of the lower leg bone (i.e. tibia) from the femur. This ligament is important in knee stability during contact sports as well as sports that involve rapid changes in direction and pivoting movements.
During the injury, you may hear a pop or crack sound and there may be swelling of the knee following injury. You may also have difficulty fully bending or straightening the knee .
Stop play or competition. Apply RICE (Rest, Ice, Compression and Elevation) immediately to the knee to decrease pain and swelling.
You should seek medical attention if you have severe knee pain associated with inability to put weight on the affected leg, or onset of numbness or weakness of the lower leg.
A doctor will examine the knee joint to determine if you have an ACL injury, or another type of knee injury. In some cases, imaging studies may be ordered.
Depending on the severity of the ACL injury and your usual activity level, you will likely be referred to see a physiotherapist who may prescribe an appropriate knee brace. If you have a complete ACL tear, you will likely be referred to see an orthopaedic surgeon. Surgery involves either repairing or reconstructing the ACL.
Physiotherapy is important for individuals scheduled for surgery as it helps to restore normal motion, strengthen the muscles around the knee and reduces the swelling in preparation for surgery. This will help you to have the best function and recovery possible following the surgery.
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