Anterior Cruciate Ligament (ACL) refers to the ligament that is situated inside the knee. It originates on the front of the knee attached to the tibia bone and crosses backward to insert into the femur. It’s function is to prevent the excessive forward movement of the tibia. ACL ruptures are one of the most common knee injuries in contact sports such as football, GAA, hurling and basketball. ACL ruptures are common sporting injury, usually occurring when there is excessive force placed on the front of the leg. However, they can also occur when trying to slow down suddenly when sprinting or landing on your foot awkwardly. When a rupture occurs surgery maybe needed to regain full function of the knee depending on the activity levels of the individual.
Usually when you rupture the ACL you will hear a ‘popping’ sound and within 24 hours the knee will swell. In 50% of ACL rupture damage to other knee structures will occur i.e meniscus, collateral ligaments of the knee. Your knee depending on the level of tear will be swollen and tender around the joint line and walking will feel uncomfortable and weak.
Surgery is commonly needed especially if you are very active and require a decent level of stability in your knee to perform sporting activities you enjoy. Either way physiotherapy will be part of your rehabilitation. Physiotherapy is necessary to restore as much range of movement, strength and stability as possible. When your body experiences an injury it will compensate to prevent further injury. Physiotherapists can identify during an assessment what muscles have begun to compensate and will work on reversing and correcting the mal-alignment of the knee so that you can return to sport or normal activity as safely as possible. Thus preventing pain and injury.