The ACL is one of four ligaments located in the knee responsible for providing stabilization to your joint. The most common injuries sustained to this area is a torn ACL.
What is a torn ACL?
When this ligament goes through the front part of your knee and it passes through the center of it, it provides stability for rotation movements. Especially during recreational activities like soccer that involve twisting.
A torn ACL can happen if there is a sudden change in direction for your knee. For example: if your knee has been locked into one position facing to the east, and you suddenly change and try to face toward the west, it can cause the ligament to become torn. It can also take place if you try to pick it when your knee is still in the locked position.
Most of the time such injuries are sustained while playing a sport or during physical activity. The ligament can become partially torn through regular sports and it can become fully torn when you keep your foot planted in your knee locked but then you try to twist and pivot your knee at the same time.
This is something that occurs regularly in gymnastics, soccer, football, and basketball. Take for example a soccer player who is running down the field chasing the ball, and then firmly plants a foot and knee in the locked position to receive a pass, but suddenly the other team intercepts the soccer ball and kicks it back down toward the opposite end of the field. If the athlete keeps the knee in the locked position and tries to pivot quickly, it can cause damage. This sudden change in the stress is what damages the ligament. But these injuries can also be sustained at lower speeds.
The most common symptom is a large popping sound followed by immediate pain in the knee and swelling. Typically it’s not subtle.
Women actually stand to sustain this type of damage more so compared to their male counterparts because of the different muscle function and anatomy. Women actually have a wider pelvis compared to men and this wider pelvis causes the femur to meet the tibia at a greater angle compared to men.
The meeting of the femur and tibia increases the force that the ACL ligament needs to withstand when the body is twisted. This measure alone increases the risk of damage to the ACL. The muscles in the female body are more elastic which means that they decreased the protection given to the hamstring and the ACL. Hormonal changes which happened with menstruation can cause even greater elasticity which increases the risk of a torn ACL even more.
After tearing an ACL, it is best to have it reconstructed. This way, the athlete can get back to the same level of sports activity as prior. While it doesn’t always occur, there would not be another way to reach elite activity levels. The Gilbert orthopedic surgeons at OSPI are top sports medicine doctors, Board Certified, and have successfully treated hundreds of ACL tears with reconstruction.
Call OSPI for the top sports medicine treatment in the East Valley and all of AZ today – 480-899-4333!