ACL injuries are the most common sports-related knee injury. They are caused when the knee is hyper-extended beyond its normal fully straightened range. Most ACL tears occur during sports that require abrupt turning or stopping, such as basketball, soccer and football. Symptoms include a popping sound at the time of injury, severe pain, and swelling in the knees within six hours after injury.
How it Happens
ACL injuries typically occur when an athlete pivots or turns his knee while his foot remains firmly planted on the ground. ACL tears can also result from an awkward landing from a jump.
The ACL is one out of the four ligaments in the knee that mediates joint mobility. It controls the joint connecting the femur(thigh bone) and tibia (shin bone). Without a proper functioning ACL, the tibia could slide in front of the femur and would be prone to dislocation.
ACL reconstructive surgery is the only way to effectively treat a torn ACL. During surgery, a graft is taken from a chosen tendon and threaded through a hole drilled in the tibia into the femur. The entire process lasts approximately two hours.
After surgery, patients must wear an ACL brace and go through six to nine months of physical therapy. During that period, patients have to do strengthening exercises such as leg press and squats. Most athletes are able to recover completely after surgery.