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    ACL injury

    • Overview

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      An ACL injury happens when the anterior cruciate ligament (ACL), which is a band of tissue connecting the thigh bone (femur) to the shinbone (tibia), tears or sprains. This kind of injury is common during sports that require sudden stops or changes in direction, jumping and landing, like soccer, basketball, football and downhill skiing.

      People who suffer an ACL injury hear a pop or feel a “popping” sensation in their knee. The knee may also swell, become unstable and become too painful to support the weight.

      The treatment for an ACL injury depends on its severity. It could involve rest and rehabilitation exercises to recover strength and stability or surgery to replace the torn ligament, followed by rehabilitation. An effective training program may lower the likelihood of an ACL injury.

    • Symptoms

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      Signs and symptoms of an ACL injury usually include:
      A loud pop or a “popping” sensation in the knee.
      Severe pain and inability to continue the activity.
      Rapid swelling.
      Loss of range of motion.
      A feeling of instability or “giving way” with weight bearing.

    • When to see a doctor

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      If you experience any signs or symptoms of an ACL injury, seeking immediate medical care for your knee is crucial. The knee joint comprises a complex structure of bones, ligaments, tendons, and other tissues that work together. Getting a prompt and accurate diagnosis is essential to determine the severity of the injury and receive appropriate treatment.

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    • Causes

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      Did you know that ligaments are muscular tissues that connect bones? One of these ligaments, called the ACL, runs through the middle of the knee and connects the thighbone to the shinbone. It is responsible for stabilising the knee joint.

      Sports and fitness activities that place stress on the knee joint often cause ACL injuries. These activities include sudden stops and direction changes, pivoting with a firmly planted foot, awkward landings from jumps, sudden stops, and direct blows or collisions.

      In the event of an ACL injury, the ligament may be partially or entirely torn. Mild injuries may only stretch the ligament but leave it intact.

    • Risk factors

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      Several factors increase your risk of an ACL injury, including:
      Being female — possibly due to anatomical differences, muscle strength and hormonal influences.
      Participating in sports like soccer, football, basketball, gymnastics and downhill skiing.
      Poor conditioning.
      Using faulty movement patterns, such as moving the knees inward during a squat.
      Wearing footwear that doesn’t fit properly.
      Using poorly maintained sports equipment, such as ski bindings, that need to be appropriately adjusted.
      Playing on artificial turf.

    • Prevention

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      Proper training and exercise can reduce the risk of ACL injury. Seeking guidance from a sports medicine physician, physical therapist, athletic trainer, or other sports medicine specialist can provide you with assessment, instruction, and feedback to help minimise risks.

      Programs to reduce ACL injury include:
      Exercises to strengthen the core — including the hips, pelvis and lower abdomen — to train athletes to avoid moving the knee inward during a squat
      Exercises that strengthen leg muscles, particularly hamstring exercises, to ensure an overall balance in leg muscle strength
      Training and exercise emphasise proper technique and knee position when jumping and landing from jumps.
      Training to improve technique when performing pivoting and cutting movements.

      Female athletes can lower their risk of ACL injuries by focusing on training to strengthen their leg, hip and core muscles. Additionally, improving jumping and landing techniques and preventing inward movement of the knee can also be helpful.
      Gear
      Always wear the proper footwear and padding to avoid getting injured while playing sports. If you’re a downhill skier, ensure a trained professional adjusts your ski bindings appropriately. That will help your skis release correctly in case of a fall. However, wearing a knee brace won’t prevent ACL injury or reduce the risk of recurring injury after surgery.

    • *Please note that the information provided in the article is for reference purposes only. It is essential to consult a doctor before applying any of the suggestions mentioned.

    Content Details

    Medical info from Mayo Clinic, for reference only. Visit Hoan My for better advice.

    Last updated on: 07/08/2023