The anterior cruciate ligament or ACL is one of the most common injured ligaments of the knee, especially in sports such as basketball and football. The ACL stabilizes the knee for cutting, twisting and jumping and pivoting activity. The anterior cruciate ligament is in the center of the knee joint.
When you tear an ACL, you will often feel or hear a pop. You will also feel the knee shift out of place and develop significant swelling in just a few hours. The initial treatment should consist of ice to the knee, leg elevation and crutches. A sports physician, orthopaedic surgeon or physiotherapist should evaluate the injury.
If the ACL has been torn, surgical reconstruction of the ligament may be indicated, as the ligament rarely heals by itself. In this type of surgery, the most common procedure is to take either the hamstring tendons, or the patellar tendon of the same leg and place it in the original location of the injured ACL. After a period of proper rehabilitation following surgery, the athlete can return safely to active participation in four to six months.