What does ACL mean?
ACL stands for Anterior Crucial Ligament and is one of the cruciate ligaments within the knee that connects the femur to the tibia. The ACL runs diagonally through the middle of the knee, preventing the tibia from slipping out in front of the femur as well as keeping your knee joint stable and mobile. The ACL stabilises the knee when in a standing position and when the knee is locked, this ligament gives the brain feedback so that we know the knee is straight. This is called proprioception.
What causes an ACL Knee Injury?
High energy sports such as skiing, water skiing and motocross can give huge unnatural strains on the knee ligaments, as can any sport requiring controlling footwear with spikes or studs on soft ground. Many of our clients also come to us with stories of low energy accidents, such simply sitting down between the skis and rupturing both ACL’s, or catching the ski toe on a lump of ice, forcing the leg to turn unnaturally.
If an undue rotational strain is placed on the knee it can tear. An ACL Injury usually occurs when the foot is firmly planted to the ground and an excessive rotational force is placed on the knee at the same time. Examples are:
- Skiing with the ski tip caught as the body turns and the bindings do not release.
- Footballers playing on soft ground, the studs hold to the ground and turn rapidly.
- Motocross riders planting the foot and the bike turns towards the supporting foot.
In a severe ACL Knee Injury, damage can also be done to the medial meniscus and medial collateral ligament. This is known as the ‘terrible triad’ and is the most severe of this type of injury. Side impact from a car or a heavy side tackle in football or rugby can cause a similar injury.
What are the symptoms of an ACL Injury?
- Hearing a loud ‘pop’ at the time of injury due to the unnatural action which has placed excess strain on the ACL.
- Noticeable knee swelling immediately after trauma which worsens over the next few hours. This could be a sign of bleeding inside the joint.
- Sudden instability in the knee. The knee feels wobbly, weak and ‘gives way’ when any amount of pressure is applied to it. This may happen after a jump, unnatural change in direction or after a direct blow to the knee.
- Pain on the outside and back of the knee which leads to limited movement and swelling.
If you have suffered from an ACL Injury then our knee specialists are available to offer an individual ACL Injury Treatment Plan so you can return to sport and go back to your daily activities as soon as possible.