How Your ACL Works

Your anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) connects your thigh bone to your shin bone in your knee. It’s one of four essential ligaments in the joint, and it helps provide stability as you move.

Anterior cruciate ligament injuries are very common among athletes of all abilities, with up to 200,000 ligament ruptures each year in the United States alone. Suffering an ACL injury can keep you from participating in your favorite physical activities, but sports medicine care can get you back on your feet.

At Mountain View Foot & Ankle Institute, in South Ogden, Utah, David B. Glover, DPM, FACFAS, and our team specialize in sports medicine for leg and foot injuries. In this blog, Dr. Glover explains how the ACL works and how these injuries can be repaired.

Understanding the ACL

Your knee joint has three bones: the thigh bone (femur), the shin bone (tibia), and the kneecap (patella). These bones are held together with ligaments, which are strong, fibrous bands of tissue.

One of these ligaments is the ACL. The ACL is located in the middle of the knee, and it runs diagonally, attaching the thigh bone to the shin bone. It helps provide stability for back and forth motion as well as for rotational stability when you twist and change directions.

Recognizing an ACL injury

Healthy ACLs are tough, and they help hold your knees together. But, a sudden impact or an abrupt change in direction can stretch this fibrous band of tissue past its limit.

An ACL injury can happen to anyone, but your risk of suffering this type of injury can increase if you engage in certain sporting activities. Soccer, basketball, football, and other sports that require lots of jumping, sudden stops, or changes in direction can put extra strain on your ACL.

Common signs of ACL injuries include:

Anterior cruciate ligament injuries can range in severity from mild sprains to complete tears. Mild sprains can be painful, but they still may offer joint stability. More severe sprains may cause noticeable joint instability or weakness, while full tears may leave you with severe pain and no joint stability.

Treating an ACL injury

If you’ve been injured, Dr. Glover can work with you to speed healing and get you back to your favorite activities sooner.

Mild sprains and even some partial tears can often be treated with nonsurgical care. After giving you a thorough evaluation, Dr. Glover can develop a plan to help get you well. Your plan may include any of the following:

If your injury doesn’t improve with conservative care, or if you suffer a complete ligament tear, you may need surgery.

Whether you’re an avid athlete or you enjoy getting active on the weekends, sports medicine care can keep you feeling your best. If you’ve injured your ACL, get the help you need by booking an appointment online or over the phone with Mountain View Foot & Ankle Institute today.

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