Your ACL, or anterior cruciate ligament, is one of the key bands of fibrous tissue that contribute to stabilising your knee joint. The particular job of the anterior cruciate ligament in particular is to prevent your knee from hyperextending. This means that when you straighten your leg it stops your lower leg from moving too far out in relation to your upper leg. When you kick a football, this is what stops your lower leg from hyperextending. It is also one of the ligaments that contribute to your ability to “lock” your knee with a straight leg.
Often this ligament can rupture due to a sporting injury or other means and it is often associated with soccer and American football as the “classic” knee injury.
Many people report hearing a pop or snapping sound as the ligament ruptures, and this will usually be followed by intense swelling. You will also experience some measure of pain around the knee though not nearly as severely as you may expect, as the ligament itself doesn’t have the correct nerve supply to detect pain.
There are a number of ways to rupture the ACL which all result in you extending your leg too far. This can be by landing badly or at an angle after a jump, changing direction too quickly or simply because of a strong impact on the kneecap.
The ACL can be surgically repaired though whether this course of action is taken will be dependent on your circumstances: It is possible for the knee to still feel stable and if you aren’t dependent on it (for your occupation for example) then it may be recommended that you undergo physical therapy and perhaps wear a knee brace.
Should you decide to undergo surgery you will have to first wait for the swelling to lessen and ensure that you have regained the full range of motion of your knee. This may also require physical therapy. The surgery itself involve replacing the ACL ligament with another piece of connective tissue, such as the patellar tendon (between your kneecap and lower leg) or hamstring.
This article is for information only and should not be used for the diagnosis or treatment of medical conditions. Doctify Limited has used all reasonable care in compiling the information but makes no warranty as to its accuracy. Consult a doctor or other health care professional for diagnosis and treatment of medical conditions. In the event of an emergency, please call 999 for immediate assistance.