The Anterior Cruciate Ligament (ACL) is one of the key structures in the knee joint. This band-like structure of dense connective tissues originates from the back of the lower aspect of the femur (thigh bone) and inserts onto the front, upper aspect of the tibia (shin bone). Hence, the ACL helps prevent forward movement of the shin bone on the thigh bone. The ACL ranges from 22-41mm in length and 7-12mm in width.
The ACL can be damaged when excessive strain is put through it by twisting movements, hyperextension of the knee or forward movement of the shin bone on the thigh bone. This can result in a partial or full thickness tear of the ACL. The ACL is therefore commonly injured during contact or high impact sports involving quick changes of direction such as Football and Netball. In addition, it is more commonly injured in female athletes compared to male athletes.
Unfortunately, due to its structural properties, the ACL is unable to heal itself if torn. As a result, the ACL commonly requires surgical reconstruction if completely torn, especially if the individual wants to return to contact or high impact sports. The main objectives of an ACL reconstruction is to restore function and adequate stability to the knee, as well as prevent any future degenerative changes. If surgical intervention is undergone, rehabilitation, including return to sport, usually takes between 6-12 months. In addition, it is important to note that rehabilitation/physiotherapy should commence immediately post injury and not just post-surgery. It is important to restore range of movement, reduce swelling and increase strength to achieve optimal results post-surgery.
A thorough examination of the injury by an experienced Physiotherapist can correctly identify an ACL injury. In addition, an MRI is often necessary to determine both the severity of the injury as well as any other damage to surrounding structures. Book an appointment with one of our highly trained Bend + Mend Physiotherapists in Sydney’s CBD if you have knee pain, or suspect an injury of your ACL. We can help with diagnosing the cause of your knee pain, and get you on the right track for full recovery!