A torn ACL is one of the most common injuries seen in high impact sports and activities like soccer, football, basketball, and skiing. Therefore, it is no surprise that we often hear of athletes who must spend up to a year on the sidelines due to a ruptured ACL. Although many people have heard about ACL injuries, most don't understand the exact function and significance of the ACL.
What is the Anatomy of the ACL?
Ligaments are thick bands of tissue that connect bones. The ACL, which stands for Anterior Cruciate Ligament, is one of the four ligaments located in the knee. All four ligaments work together to assist in stabilizing and supporting the knee- the largest and most complex joint in the body. The ACL is located anteriorly (or in the front of the knee) and connects the femur to the tibia.
What is the Function of the ACL?
The ACL acts with the PCL (posterior cruciate ligament) to stabilize the knee from the back and the front. The PCL is responsible for stabilizing the knee posteriorly (from the back) and preventing hyperextension-straightening the joint beyond the normal range of motion- at the knee joint. The ACL, on the other hand, is responsible for preventing the knee from gliding anteriorly. The ACL also stabilizes the knee during movements like bending (of the knee) and the rotation of the knee. On top of this, along with the PCL, the ACL also protects the knee from hyperextension. Together, the ACL and PCL also work to center the weight of the body at the knee joint, protecting the other ligaments from damage.
What Happens When You Tear Your ACL?
Tearing your ACL is an extremely painful injury and oftentimes upon rupturing your ACL you will feel and hear a loud "pop" in your knee. Upon tearing your ACL you will experience symptoms like:
- Severe pain and inability to continue standing
- Rapid swelling of the knee
- Loss of range of motion
- Instability and loss of range of motion in the knee
What Should You Do If You Think You've Torn Your ACL?
If you think that you have torn your ACL, it is important to get medical attention as soon as possible. An orthopedic surgeon will need to evaluate the extent and severity of the injury so that a plan of action for treatment can be made. Depending on the severity of your injury, here is a list of treatments your physician might suggest:
- ACL Surgery
- Anti-inflammatory Medication
Regardless of the plan of action, recovery from an ACL injury averages around 9-12 months.
Gustavel Orthopedics is Here for You
With more than 18 years of experience providing high-quality specialized care, Dr. Michael Gustavel at Gustavel Orthopedics has treated the injuries of thousands of patients in the Boise, Idaho area. So if you're experiencing any knee pain or suspect you've torn your ACL, contact us today to schedule an appointment. Together we will make a personalized, minimally invasive approach to treat your injury and get you feeling great again in no time.