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acl injuryLigament Anatomy

Your knee is made up of several bones that are connected by ligaments. The ligaments act as the glue to stabilize your knee and keep it connected.

Two types of ligaments are found within the knee: the collateral and cruciate. Collateral ligaments run on the side of your joint and provide sideway motion and support during unusual movements. Meanwhile the cruciate ligaments are found inside the joint and crisscross each other to form an “x” on the front and back of your joint. These ligaments control the back and forth motion. Part of the cruciate family is the anterior cruciate ligament (ACL). The ACL runs through the middle of the knee in a diagonal helping to keep the tibia in place and provide stability.

The Most Common Injury

One of the most common knee injuries is an ACL sprain or tear. This occurs frequently in athletes who play high impact sports, such as football, basketball and soccer. Nearly 50 percent of ACL injuries do not occur alone; patients typically also incur structural damage to other ligaments, articular cartilage or meniscus.

The ACL can become damaged in various ways:

  • Rapid change in direction
  • Sudden stops
  • Incorrect jump landing
  • Collisions
  • Deceleration while running

Symptoms & Treatments

Patients will typically experience pain, swelling, loss of full range of motion and discomfort when walking. Often at the time of injury, patients will hear a “popping” noise and feel like their knee can’t support them.

After becoming injured, patients should seek the professional guidance of an orthopaedic surgeon. Treatments will depend on a patient’s specific needs and can range from nonsurgical options, such as physical therapy, to ACL reconstruction surgery.

ACL Reconstruction

Most patients will need their ACL to be reconstructed after a strain. Your torn ligaments are replaced with a tissue graft in order to encourage new ligament growth. This procedure is arthroscopic and can help reduce pain, time spent in the hospital and total recovery time.