ACL Tear Overview
The knee is a complex, hinge-like joint that connects three bones: your thigh bone (femur), your shin bone (tibia) and the knee cap (patella) at the front to protect the joint.
Rope-like ligaments connect the bones to each other. Key among the four ligaments is the anterior cruciate ligament in the front of the knee. The ACL may tear when you stop suddenly to change direction or pivot with your foot firmly planted – a common sequence of events in sports such as football, soccer, lacrosse and basketball. A fall while snow skiing may also twist the knee with enough force to tear the ACL. Surgery to repair a torn ACL is likely required to restore full function of the knee.
A physical rehabilitation program is an important part of recovery even when surgery isn’t part of treatment.
- A “popping” sound and sensation
- Severe knee pain
- Swelling that continues hours after the injury
- Feeling the knee is wobbly or unstable
- Limits in range of motion
Athletes, especially women, participating in intense sports such as soccer, football and lacrosse are more likely to tear their anterior cruciate ligaments.
Women are at greater risk for ACL tears than men playing the same sport because of differences in the alignment of the pelvis and leg and differences in muscular strength.