ACL Injuries

By Medically reviewed by hellodoktor

Know the basics

What are anterior cruciate ligaments injuries (ACL)?

Anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) is the ligament lying in the middle of the knee. It prevents the shin bone from sliding out in front of the thigh bone. An anterior cruciate ligament injury is the over-stretching or tearing of the anterior cruciate ligament in the knee. Depending on the severity and the activity level, the tear can be partial or complete. Injuries range from mild, such as a small tear, to severe, such as when the ligament tears completely or when the ligament and part of the bone separate from the rest of the bone.

How common are anterior cruciate ligaments injuries (ACL)?

Anterior cruciate ligaments injuries are likely to appear on athletes participating in high demand sports like soccer, football, and basketball.

It can be managed by reducing your risk factors. Please discuss with your doctor for further information.

Know the symptoms

What are the symptoms of anterior cruciate ligaments injuries (ACL)?

Signs and symptoms of an ACL injury usually include:

  • A loud popping sound at the time of injury;
  • Severe pain and inability to continue activity;
  • Swelling that begins within a few hours;
  • Loss of range of motion;
  • A feeling of instability with weight bearing;
  • Swelling knee within the first few hours of the injury. This may be a sign of bleeding inside the knee joint.

There may be some symptoms not listed above. If you have any concerns about a symptom, please consult your doctor.

When should I see my doctor?

If you have any signs or symptoms listed above or have any questions, please consult with your doctor. Everyone’s body acts differently. It is always best to discuss with your doctor what is best for your situation.

Know the causes

What causes anterior cruciate ligaments injuries (ACL)?

The anterior cruciate ligament injuries can happen when you get hit very hard on the side of your knee, such as during a football tackle. This can happen when you quickly stop moving and change direction while running, landing from a jump, or turning. Also, overextend knee joint due to falling or missing a step on a staircase may lead to ACL as well.

ACL injuries often occur with other injuries. For example, an ACL tear often occurs along with tears to others part of knee ligaments and the shock-absorbing cartilage in the knee. This type of injury is common in soccer, skiing, football, and other sports with lots of stop-and-go movements, jumping, or weaving.

Know the risk factors

What are the risk factors of anterior cruciate ligaments injuries (ACL)?

Here are two kinds of risk factors of ACL:


  • High BMI;
  • Jump landing mechanics.

Non – modifiable:

  • Female gender;
  • Notch width;
  • Ligamentous laxity.

Understand the diagnosis & treatment

The information provided is not a substitute for any medical advice. ALWAYS consult with your doctor for more information.

How to diagnose anterior cruciate ligaments injuries (ACL)?

To diagnose your injury, the doctor will check your knee for swelling and tenderness. Also, he or she move your knee with many positions to assess the range of motion and overall function of the joint.

Besides, the doctor may recommend some tests to find out the reasons and determine the severity of the injury.

  • X- rays;
  • Magnetic resonance image (MRI);
  • Ultrasound.

How are ACL injuries treated?

When having ACL injuries, you should call doctor right away and follow these initial first aid procedures:

  • Raise your leg above the level of the heart and rest your whole body.
  • Put ice on the knee for at least 20 minutes and continue within 2 hours.
  • Use pain relievers, such as nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs.

Also remember these cautious notes:

  • Do not move your knee if you have had a serious injury.
  • Use a splint to keep the knee straight until you see a doctor.
  • Do not return to play or other activities until you have been treated.

Treatment for an ACL tear might include nonsurgical and surgical approaches, depending upon the patient’s individual needs. Nonsurgical treatments can include bracing and physical therapy. These treatments may be effective for those who are elderly or have a very low activity level. On the other hand, your doctor may recommend surgery if:

  • You are an athlete and want to continue in your sport, especially if the sport involves jumping, cutting or pivoting.
  • More than one ligament or the cartilage in your knee is injured.
  • You are young and active.
  • The injury is causing your knee to buckle during everyday activities.

Lifestyle changes & home remedies

How can I manage anterior cruciate ligaments injuries (ACL)?

To prevent ACL injuries, you should use proper techniques when playing sports or exercising. Also, be cautious on daily activities and wear protective gears when you have to do hard chores.

If you have any questions, please consult with your doctor to better understand the best solution for you.

Hello Health Group does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.


Review Date: September 13, 2016 | Last Modified: September 13, 2019

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