by Richard Symister @ MovEvolution Physical Therapy

Signs and Symptoms of an Anterior Cruciate Ligament Tear

The anterior cruciate ligament or ACL is one of the four main ligaments within the knee that connect the femur to the tibia. Your ACL works with the PCL (posterior cruciate ligament), which crosses over it to form an “X.” Together, these two ligaments help keep the knee stable when rotating. The ACL keeps the shinbone in place and prevents it from moving too far forward and away from the knee and thigh bone.

Anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) injuries are at the top of the list of sports injuries. Approximately 150,000 ACL injuries (50% of all knee injuries) occur in the United States each year. Female athletes who play basketball and soccer are two to eight times more likely to suffer an ACL injury compared to their male counterparts.

“ACL injuries occur most frequently in persons who participate in pivoting sports that involve running, cutting, hipping and landing (basketball, football, skiing and soccer). The mechanism of injury is often associated with deceleration coupled with cutting, pivoting or sidestepping maneuvers, awkward landings or “out of control” play.” — JOSPT, volume 42, number 3, March 2012

But how do you know if you’ve torn your ACL? We asked our clients at MovEvolution Physical Therapy about what they felt at the time of their knee injury and here’s what they said:

“I went up for a lay-up and came down funny on my knee. I heard this loud “pop.”

“I went to pivot on a planted foot, felt something snap and had immediate pain in the front of my knee.”

“Someone on the field hit my knee from the outside and my knee just buckled. Then it swelled up like a balloon and I did not trust putting weight on it.”

Indeed, most of our clients report hearing a distinct “pop” and feeling the knee “give way” when the anterior cruciate ligament ruptures. This is usually followed by anteriomedial knee pain, swelling across the knee joint and increased apprehension when loading the injured leg.

Think you might have torn your ACL? Both your doctor and physical therapist will perform specific special tests to check the stability of the knee. Your doctor may also order X-rays and an MRI, not only to assess the damage to your ACL, but also its surrounding ligaments, joint capsule and cartilage, like the meniscus.

CONTACT US and we’ll guide you through the process of ACL healing, repair, growth and performance.

See more about ACLs in our next post I TORE MY ACL. DO I NEED SURGERY?

heal. move. evolve.