Anterior Cruciate Ligament (ACL)
Understanding ACL Injuries The knee joint provides mobility and stability for the leg during walking, running and other activities. If the joint is injured, these important functions can be compromised. A common but serious injury is a tear to the anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) of the knee. What makes up the knee joint? The cartilage-covered surfaces of three bones: the femur (thighbone), the patella (kneecap) and the tibia (shinbone).
Additionally, four ligaments stabilize the knee by helping resist side-to-side or forward and backward motion. The ligaments work with the medial and lateral menisci (crescent-shaped cartilage) within the joint as well as the leg muscles to allow them to generate the power needed for activity. The ACL lies inside the knee joint and limits forward and backward motion. It consists of strong collagen fibers that function like the strands of a rope and provides most of the support that keeps the tibia from slipping forward against the femur. Normally, the ACL can handle large forces with little problem. But when the knee receives highmagnitude forces during a fall or a sudden change in direction and the muscles cannot help absorb the stress, the ACL may take the entire load and tear, with the
knee momentarily sliding out of place. Often, there is swelling and pain within the first hour after injury. If you injure your knee, apply ice immediately and seek medical attention. Do not try to walk on it. What are your options for rehabilitation if you tear your ACL? If you engage
in generally low-demand activities, you may not need surgery â€“ you might be able to use crutches, wear a brace and have physical therapy. With a more active lifestyle, you may need surgery to reconstruct the ligament and recreate a maximally stable joint that will meet the demands of work and play.
Kevin J. Collins, MD s Affiliated Orthopedic Surgeon with the Hughston Clinic and SGMC s Board-Certified Orthopedic Surgeon s Board-Certified in Sports Medicine s Doctor of Medicine, Mercer University School of Medicine s Medical Internship and Residency, Louisiana State University Health Sciences s Medical Residency, Shriners Hospital for Children in Shreveport, Louisiana s Sports Medicine Fellowship, The Hughston Foundation * Some or all of the health care professionals performing services in this hospital are independent contractors and are not hospital agents or employees. Independent conÂtractors are responsible for their own actions, and the hospital shall not be liable for the acts or omissions of any such independent contractors.