ACL Knee Injury



Knee ligament injuries can be caused by trauma, such as a car accidentm or by sports injuries. The anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) is one of the most common ligaments to be injured. Treatment may include medicine, muscle-strengthening exercises, a knee brace, or surgery.

Types of Knee Injuries

There are four main types of knee ligament injuries:

Anterior Cruciate Ligament (ACL) injury: ACL is a ligament that connects the thigh bone to the shin bone. An ACL injury occurs when the ligament is stretched or torn due to sudden movements, such as twisting or hyperextension of the knee.

Posterior Cruciate Ligament (PCL) injury: PCL is another ligament that connects the thigh bone to the shin bone, located at the back of the knee joint. A PCL injury can occur due to a direct impact to the front of the knee while it is bent.

Medial Collateral Ligament (MCL) injury: MCL is a ligament that runs along the inner part of the knee and connects the thigh bone to the shin bone. An MCL injury can occur due to a direct impact to the outside of the knee or excessive twisting of the knee.

Lateral Collateral Ligament (LCL) injury: LCL is a ligament that runs along the outer part of the knee and connects the thigh bone to the fibula bone in the lower leg. An LCL injury can occur due to a direct impact to the inside of the knee

Symptoms of ACL Knee Injury

If you suffer an anterior cruciate ligament injury, you may experience a popping sound and a feeling of your knee giving way. Additional common symptoms include pain with swelling, which occurs within 24 hours of the injury. If left untreated, the swelling and pain may subside on their own, but if you try to engage in sports, your knee will likely be unstable, which can further damage the meniscus. Other symptoms include a limited range of motion, tenderness along the joint line, and discomfort while walking.

Causes of ACL Knee Injury

The anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) can sustain injury in various ways, including sudden stops or changes in direction, slowing down during running, incorrect landing after a jump, direct collision or contact, such as a football tackle. Certain studies have indicated that in particular sports, female athletes have a greater likelihood of sustaining ACL injuries compared to male athletes. This disparity may be due to differences in physical fitness, muscle strength, and neuromuscular control. Other potential causes include differences in pelvic and lower limb alignment, greater looseness in ligaments, and the impact of estrogen on ligament characteristics.

Diagnostics of ACL Knee Injury

There are several ways to diagnose an ACL injury. The diagnosis is usually made by a healthcare professional, such as a physician, physiotherapist, or sports medicine specialist.

During the physical exam, the healthcare professional will check your knee for swelling, tenderness, range of motion, and stability. The Lachman test and the anterior drawer test are two commonly used physical tests to evaluate the stability of the knee joint. Imaging tests, such as X-rays, CT scans, and MRI scans can also be used to diagnose an ACL injury. X-rays can show if there are any fractures or bone injuries, while MRI scans can provide a more detailed view of the knee’s soft tissues, such as ligaments, tendons, and cartilage. Arthroscopy is another diagnostic test that can be used to evaluate an ACL injury. During arthroscopy, a small camera is inserted into the knee joint, allowing the healthcare professional to see the extent of the injury and any other damage to the knee.

In summary, physical examination, imaging tests such as X-rays, CT scans, and MRI scans, and arthroscopy are all commonly used methods to diagnose an ACL injury.

Complications of ACL Knee Injury

Complications of an ACL injury can include:

Knee instability: A torn ACL can cause instability in the knee joint, making it feel wobbly or giving out during activity. This can lead to falls and further injury.

Meniscus tears: The meniscus is a piece of cartilage in the knee joint that acts as a shock absorber. When the ACL is injured, it can also damage the meniscus, leading to pain, swelling, and further instability.

Osteoarthritis: An untreated or improperly treated ACL injury can increase the risk of developing osteoarthritis in the knee joint. Osteoarthritis is a degenerative joint disease that causes pain, stiffness, and limited mobility.

Limited mobility: An ACL injury can lead to decreased range of motion in the knee joint, making it difficult to perform everyday activities and participate in sports or other physical activities.

Chronic pain: Some people with an ACL injury may experience chronic pain, even after treatment. This can be due to nerve damage or other complications from the injury.

Treatment of ACL Knee Injury

The treatment options for an ACL injury depend on various factors such as the severity of the injury, patient’s age, activity level, and overall health. Non-surgical treatment options such as rest and rehabilitation, medications, and PRP therapy are recommended for patients with partial ACL tears or those who do not have an active lifestyle. Surgical treatment options such as ACL reconstruction surgery, LET surgery, and prophylactic bracing are recommended for patients with complete ACL tears or those who have an active lifestyle that requires participation in strenuous activities such as sports. The surgical procedures involve replacing the damaged ACL with a graft made from either the patient’s own tissue or from a donor using arthroscopic techniques.