Anterior Cruciate Ligament (ACL) Injuries

What are ACL Injuries?

The Anterior Cruciate Ligament lies deep within the knee and is one of the main stabilizing structures of the knee. It attaches between the femur and tibia and stops these 2 bones moving too much between each other. Injuries to this ligament are quite common and are most often caused by twisting on a fixed knee. When this happens the knee will give way and usually swell up immediately (Haemarthrosis). This injury is not usually very painful but people who experience it describe the feeling of the knee not feeling very stable.

Common Causes

Common sports that cause ACL Injuries:

  • Skiing
  • Basketball
  • Soccer
  • Football

Common Signs & Symptoms

Following this injury, the common signs and symptoms are:

  • Immediate large joint swelling (haemarthrosis)
  • Recurrent giving way of the joint
  • Decreased knee range of movement

Condition Management

What should be done following this injury:

  • Use ice or a reusable cold pack to reduce the swelling (the recommended time is 10 minutes on with 1 hour off) Never apply ice directly to the skin.
  • Use a support to help provide stabilization
  • Consult your GP or physiotherapist
  • Following this type of injury the GP or physiotherapist will undertake several specialist tests to determine the exact extent of the injury. If they think that the ligament is ruptured they will refer you onto an orthopaedic consultant for their opinion as to your future management.
  • The orthopaedic consultant will also test the ligaments of the knee and may undertake an MRI scan to look to confirm the diagnosis. They will then discuss with you the possibility of having ACL reconstructive surgery.


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The content on this website is provided for general information and reference purposes only and is not intended to substitute for advice given by a physician, pharmacist, or other licensed health-care professional. You should not use this information as self-diagnosis or for treating a health problem or disease. All exercises and information featured on this web site should only be reviewed/practised under the supervision of a qualified healthcare professional. Products suggestions linked to injuries may be provided on the site but you must always refer to the product page for full product details and always consult a physician before use as the indications outlined may not always be relevant to your particular injury/condition.