Sports Orthopedics – The ACL – Injury and Treatment

The Anterior Cruciate Ligament(ACL) is the front crossing ligament in the knee.  This ligament is frequently injured in sports.  Along with the Posterior Cruciate Ligament(PCL), the ACL provides function and stability to the knee.  The ACL prevents the lower leg bone, the tibia, from moving forward.  The PCL provides resistance for the tibia in moving backwards.  If the ACL tears, the tibia can move too far forward, making the knee unstable.

The ACL is usually damaged as a result of a non-contact injury, twisting, turning, a stop or start.  In most cases, a popping sound is heard as the ligament is torn.  As a result of the tear, a substantial amount of blood will accumulate in the knee join, causing significant swelling, and amplifying the pain of the injury.  This swelling can cause further damage to the joint and its surrounding soft tissue.

ACL tears can be treated surgically or non-surgically.  Non-surgical treatments, bracing and physical therapy, achieve limited results and are viewed as short-term solutions.  Sports medicine surgical reconstruction involves replacing the torn ligament with a patella tendon or hamstring graft.  The graft can be from the patient, or from a cadaver.

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Filed under: Sports Orthopedics

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