The Anterior Cruciate Ligament or ACL and Why Athletes Should Understand It

by Jsantos, December 3, 2012

The Anterior Cruciate Ligament or ACL and Why Athletes Should Understand It

Injuries to the anterior cruciate ligament, or ACL as many people commonly call it, can happen quite often to those involved in athletics. Both men and women alike can have ACL injuries, and they can happen at any level of sporting and athletics, even in sports that might not be as “high risk” as one might imagine. To understand these types of injuries, it is important to understand the construction of the knee.

The Ligaments of the Knee

In the knee, you will find four different ligaments that

help to stabilize it. The ACL is the ligament that helps with the stability for movements in the knee that require rotation, such as pivoting. It is easy to see why the anterior cruciate ligament is

so important to athletes then, and it is easy to see why this is the ligament that seems to be one of the ones that is most prone to injury. So many movements in all types of sports, from football to baseball, basketball, tennis, and even golf can require these types of movements. The ACL also helps to prevent hyperextension of the knee. When this does occur, one will often have an ACL tear. You can see this happen in professional sports regularly.

Each year, many professional athletes have an ACL tear, and they often have access to the best professional help and rehabilitation possible. However, the professional athletes are not the only ones who can suffer from ACL injuries. Many people who just enjoy weekend sports can also develop the issue. The most common type of injury happens not when they have collisions with other players, but when the player tries to plant and then cut, or when changing directions. This places excess stress on the ACL and it could tear. Contact injuries can also cause issues with the ACL, but the non-contact injuries seem to be more prevalent. Landing from a jump can hyperextend the knee and cause an ACL tear as well.

Do You Have an ACL Injury?

If you think that you have an ACL injury, the specialists will be able to diagnose it in several different ways. They could use an MRI, or magnetic resonance imaging machine to scan the soft tissue and look for an ACL tear. Another option could be diagnostic arthroscopy, where a surgeon will place a small camera into the knee and look for injuries. Your own doctor will be able to let you know which procedure might be the best solution to determine the extent of your injury.


The treatment for ACL injuries will often vary based on the patient. Depending on age, severity, and other factors, different treatments may have more of an effect. Some of the possible options that you might have include rest, rehabilitation, and even surgical reconstruction with a graft. After surgery, an athlete is generally going to have to undergo several months of physical therapy. These injuries can cause quite a bit of time away from sports, so it is important to take care of your knees and rest them. If you believe that you have a problem, talk with a doctor as soon as possible. The sooner you catch an issue, the better.

Surgeon’s Advice | Leon Mead MD Orthopedic Doctor | 730 Goodlette Road North, Suite 201  Naples Florida 34102 | Phone: (239) 262-1119


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