What are the symptoms of an ACL injury?

June 12, 2018

What is an ACL?

Simply put, an anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) connects the bottom of the femur (thighbone) to the top of the tibia (shinbone). It is one of four ligaments in the knee and is responsible for stability, forward movement of the lower leg and preventing rotational stress. Not only is the ACL the weakest of the four ligaments in the knee, too much stress can cause it to tear.

ACL injuries are extremely common among both professional and amateur athletes. It's most commonly torn during sports that involve sudden stops and changes in direction — such as basketball, soccer, tennis and volleyball.

Symptoms of an ACL injury

  1. A loud "pop" or a "popping" sensation in the knee.
  2. Severe pain and inability to continue activity.
  3. Swelling that begins within a few hours.
  4. Loss of range of motion.
  5. A feeling of instability or "giving way" with weight bearing.

What is the treatment?

In order to avoid collateral damage, including meniscus tears and degenerative joint disease in the future, reconstructive surgery should typically be performed. This also provides stability and function in the knee. Orthopedic surgeons use either an allograph (from a cadaver) ligament or an autograph (the patient's own tissue usually from the knee cap tendon or the hamstring) for the repair.

Can ACL injuries be prevented?

While it is difficult to prevent an ACL injury from occurring, the chances of an injury happening can be lowered by performing training drills that emphasize power and agility and by improving muscular reactions with jumping and balance drills.

Sports Medicine at Midwest Orthopaedics at Rush

The Sports Medicine and Shoulder section at Midwest Orthopaedics at Rush specializes in providing comprehensive care for conditions involving the shoulder, elbow, hip and knee. Our doctors provide care to patients and athletes from across the globe who are seeking expertise in areas such as hip preservation, cartilage restoration, shoulder and knee reconstruction.

To request an appointment with one of our sports medicine doctors, click here.