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ACL Injury

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An ACL injury affects one of the four main ligaments that connect the femur (thighbone) to the tibia (shinbone).  The ACL (anterior cruciate ligament) is fibrous, like a rope and along with the other ligaments, holds the knee together, and provides rotational stability. 

An ACL injury usually happens during some kind of physical activity, sports or exercise. It results from a quick change of direction in forward motion, a twisting or pivoting motion, or sudden stops where the foot and lower leg are planted and the top part of the knee keeps moving forward, following the law of inertia, causing the ligament to tear either partially or completely. It is a very common sports injury both for competitive athletes and those involved in exercise or recreation sports.

Symptoms of an ACL injury include intense pain and swelling of the knee, loss of range of motion and weakness with weight-bearing on the leg. Sometimes a “pop” sound is heard when the ligament tears.

For a competitive athlete, a tear in the anterior cruciate ligament requires surgery to repair the tear, if they wish to return to their sport.  Non-competitive, yet active people may also choose to have the tear surgically repaired, so they can continue to be as active as they were before the tear. It is possible to rehabilitate the knee and not have surgery, but activity may be somewhat limited.

To repair of an ACL injury that involves a tear, the surgeon removes the damaged ACL and replaces it with a tissue graft, usually from either the patellar (knee) tendon or a hamstring tendon. 

Learn more about ACL surgery and repair.

For more information or to schedule an appointment with an knee specialist, please call our scheduling line:

877-34ORTHO (67846)

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Baltimore, MD 21237

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