What is an ACL tear?
The anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) is a central part of the knee that can tear and lead to injury. ACL tears are commonly seen in athletes who play soccer, football, basketball or other sports that involve the overuse of knees. An ACL tear can start small, but it may continue to hurt and completely tear if it goes untreated.
What causes ACL tears?
Since ACL tears are common in athletes, it is important to know what exactly causes your ACL to tear apart. In general, the twisting and pivoting motion of the knee used in many sports is what causes an ACL injury. Other causes of ACL tears include:
- A hard impact that crushes your knee or leg.
- The overextension of your knee when kicking or bending.
- Sudden stop and go movement when running, jumping or turning your body.
ACL tears may be paired with other knee injuries as well. Other ligaments within the knee joint or bones can be harmed along with the ACL.
How do I know if I have an ACL tear?
If you have a complete or partial ACL tear, you will immediately feel pain in your knee. Any use or weight put on the injured knee will be accompanied by great pain. There are other symptoms of an ACL tears as well. You may have an ACL tear if you are experiencing these symptoms:
- Your knee is red or swollen with pain.
- You hear a “popping” or “cracking” sound from your knee.
- You are unable to stand, walk or put any pressure on the hurt knee.
How do I prevent an ACL injury?
ACL tears can be avoided with prevention tips and caution. Follow this prevention advice for ACL tears, especially if you are an athlete of any age. ACL tears are a season-ending injury. You can prevent ACL tears by:
- Wearing the right sports uniform and safety pads when participating in contact sports.
- Stretching before any physical activity. Gradually stretch the knee before playing sports or routine exercise.
- Building and strengthening the muscles around your knees for more support.
- Learning how to safely land on your knees after a jump or fall to the ground.