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Anterior Cruciate Ligament (ACL) Injury

  • What is Anterior Cruciate Ligament Injury?

    The anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) is one of the main stabilising ligaments in the knee. An anterior cruciate ligament injury is a tear to the anterior cruciate ligament.

  • Injuries to the anterior cruciate ligament are common among people who play sports that involve start-stop movements, pivoting or sudden changes in direction. These sports include football, netball, tennis, dancing and skiing.

  • Symptoms of anterior cruciate ligament injury include:

    • A popping sound when the ligament ruptures
    • Difficulty with knee movements
    • Feeling of instability, with the knee ‘giving way’ during daily activities
    • Pain immediately after an injury
    • Swelling of the affected knee within 4 – 12 hours
    • Walking with a painful limp
  • Nonsurgical treatment methods include:

    • Rest and immobilisation
    • Physiotherapy to restore function to your knee and strengthen the leg muscles that support it

    The aims of treatment are to:

    • Increase muscle strength
    • Increase range of knee movement
    • Increase stability of the knee
    • Reduce knee pain and swelling

    If physiotherapy alone is not successful or if your ACL is torn badly, reconstruction surgery may be needed. If you are an athlete and want to continue in your sport, your doctor may also recommend surgery. Patients who undergo surgery, combined with physiotherapy after, can often play sports again within 12 months.

    Consult an orthopaedic surgeon who can advise you on a treatment procedure best suited to your needs.

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