Anatomy and Function of the Anterior Cruciate Ligament

The Anterior Cruciate Ligament (ACL) is one of four ligaments that hold the three bones of the knee together. The ligaments keep the joint stabilized and help prevent damage minimizing movements that could cause injury. The ACL is positioned diagonally across the knee. The position of the ACL prevents the tibia from moving in front of the femur and ensures stability during rotation.

How The ACL Gets Damaged

This type of knee injury is often associated with sports. While football players like Joe Namath and Jerry Rice are some of the worst affected, almost anyone can tear their ACL. Tiger Woods tore his ACL taking part in a very normal and popular athletic routine, jogging. If the knee is moved in an unnatural way, backwards or side to side for example, there is a potential for tearing of the ACL. A common way for the ACL to get torn is when the foot is planted and then the direction of movement is suddenly changed. Of course taking part in athletics is a common way to injure the ACL, but there are many other ways non-athletes can sustain knee injuries. For example, falling on the stairs or jumping over a low fence are two potential movements that can lead to a torn or injured ACL.

Symptoms Of A Torn ACL

If a torn ACL, or other knee injury, is suspected it is always advisable to seek out an orthopedic physician to get a proper diagnosis and treatment. Some of the symptoms of a torn ACL are the same as other types of knee injuries and even some diseases. There are a few symptoms to watch for that have the potential of being caused by a torn ACL. These symptoms include:

  • Pain at the anterior (back) or lateral (outside) sides of the knee
  • Sever pain when bending
  • The knee feels very week, potentially even buckling
  • Rapid swelling following the injury
  • A popping noise when the injury occurred
  • The knee may even “lock” or “freeze” in position

ACL Tear Treatment

Trained orthopedic physicians, like those at IBJI, will evaluate many considerations while forming a treatment plan for an ACL injury. Two of the most important are the severity of the injury and the strength of the patient’s knee muscles. Someone with a mild tear of the ACL and who have strong muscles surrounding the knee may only need to brace their legs and participate in rehab. Severe injuries may necessitate surgical intervention. In some cases arthroscopic surgery can be performed, which can get the patient home the same day.

To get a proper diagnosis and the correct treatment make an appointment with a knee injury specialistat the Illinois Bone and Joint Institute. The orthopedic physicians at IBJI are some of the most highly trained and experienced doctors in the Midwest and are definitely Illinois’ right choice for knee injury care.

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