You might have heard of professional athletes tearing their ACL, or anterior cruciate ligament. It’s a fairly common injury, and perhaps even you have suffered an ACL injury. In this article, I will explain the role of the ACL to your body.
The ACL, first and foremost, is one of four ligaments in your knee, bridging the femur (thigh) and tibia (shin). It is right smack-dab in the middle, so what does it actually do and why is it important? The ACL has several significant roles:
First, it connects the femur to the tibia, or the thigh to the shin in the knee joint. It prevents the tibia (shin) from sliding out underneath the femur. Now, this might sound scary but people who have torn their ACL’s can still walk and jog, so as long as the surrounding muscles are strong and the other three supporting ligaments are in-tact. Though, a torn ACL still will prevent full knee function and movement.
Second, it allows for you to make quick or sudden movements from the knee, such as pivoting or changing direction. This is important if you are an athlete and want to continue athletics after an ACL tear.
The ACL is very important for rotational movements in your knee, and if your ACL is torn, surgery is highly recommended especially if you want to continue participating in competitive activities, especially contact sports.
Here are some common ways to tear your ACL.
-While your leg and foot are firmly planted on the ground, your knee and body experiences a sudden twisting motion.
-While your leg and foot are firmly planted on the ground, your knee and body undergoes sudden contact and thus your knee bends sharply.
-Your knee takes a direct hit from the side from some sort of contact.
An ACL tear results from over-stretching the ligament, which usually is a result from the aforementioned situations.
Here are some symptoms of a torn ACL.
-Knee swelling and pain.
-Limited motion in your knee.
-Instability or loss of balance while walking.
-Your knee “locks out” while you walk.
-You hear a “pop” or “crack” during the injury.
After an ACL tear, most people will be able to walk after a few days. People often mistaken it for a dislocated knee cap, it is best to get immediate medical attention to know for sure. You should not engage in any physical activities after injury.
ACL tears often result in some form of other injury in the knee as well, such as a meniscus tear or another torn ligament.
Sports Injury Clinic, Torn Anterior Cruciate Ligament / ACL Knee Injury
eHealthMD, What is the Anterior Cruciate Ligament?