Your anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) is located in the knee joint and connects to the tibia (shin bone) and the femur (thigh bone). It crosses diagonally with the posterior cruciate ligament (PCL) to control the backward and forward movement at the joint. It stops the tibia from sliding forwards on the femur. It is one of four strong stabilising ligaments of the knee:
- Anterior cruciate ligament
- Posterior cruciate ligament
- Medial collateral ligament
- Lateral collateral ligament
This common knee injury usually occurs together with damage to other tissues in the knee, such as the cartilage and the collateral ligaments. Injury to the ACL may present as a:
- Ligament sprain
- Partial tear
- Complete rupture
What causes an ACL injury?
ACL injuries are often sustained in sports and physical activities. ACL injuries are more common in females, which may be attributed to by muscle strength, control and conditioning. Causes can include:
- Direct trauma/impact, such as from tackles
- Quickly changing direction during running
- Sudden stops, especially during fast-paced activity
- Poorly landing jumps
- Overextending the knee
What are the symptoms?
Symptoms vary depending on severity and can include:
- Feeling unstable, like your knee is giving out from under you
- A ‘popping’ sound on impact/injury
- Pain and tenderness
- Limited movement in the joint
How is it treated?
When the injury first occurs, it’s important to stop physical activity and avoid walking on the affected knee where possible. Resting, elevating and icing the knee can help reduce the initial pain and swelling.
If you have had a rupture or significant tear to your ACL, you may require surgery. It’s important that you have a diagnosis to confirm the extent of your injury, which may involve having an ultrasound, x-ray or MRI imaging.
Under the care of our expert podiatrists, we’ll work to:
- Optimise conditions for the knee to heal
- Rebuild strength in and around the knee
- Restore your movement at the knee joint (this will likely be restricted following your injury)
- Depending on the cause, aim to reduce the likelihood of this injury recurring in the future
To achieve this, we may:
- Use orthotics to control motion at the feet and legs
- Assessing the stability of your footwear and make recommendations if your current footwear is hindering your recovery
- Teaching you how to strap your knee during your recovery
- Use a knee brace
- Use physical therapy exercises to improve strength and flexion in and around the knee
Every treatment plan is tailored specifically to you, your symptoms, circumstances and assessment findings. Our goal is always to deliver the best outcomes for you so you can achieve your goals and realise your full potential.