The ACL, or anterior cruciate ligament, is one of the knee ligaments which connects the upper and lower leg together. It primarily functions as a stabilizer for the knee. Injuries to the ACL are most commonly found among athletes.Injuries that occur to the anterior cruciate ligament range from mild to severe. Mild cases include a small tear to the ligament tissue. Severe injuries can include a complete tear of the ligament with a separation of a small part of the bone. When this happens there is also a possibility of other areas of the knee, like the cartilage or meniscus, being damaged in conjunction with the incident.
The most common way an ACL is injured is from an abnormal movement of the knee. This may be a circumstance in which the knee joint is moved in a twisting motion, pushed backwards, or is bent in a side to side direction. Typically these motions can be as a result of a foot being planted in one spot then the knee being hit with force, or a rapid change in movement. Contact sports, or sports with twisting motions, and shoes with cleats or high heels are the greatest causes for these types of injuries.
The signs of an anterior cruciate ligament tear include the person hearing a popping sound at the time of the injury. The knee will typically swell within the first few hours of the incident, and pain will develop along the outside and back of the knee. The knee may also feel unstable, and become difficult to bend or buckle. Immobilization and physical rehabilitation are the main ways these injuries are treated. By strengthening the knee joint, the possibility of future injuries is reduced. Surgical options for ACL damage and injuries are a last resort for this problem.