Torn ACL: Causes, Symptoms And Treatment

by Administrator 21. August 2014 08:09

Torn ACL injuries are caused due to straightening of the knee beyond its normal limits and it is also known as hyper-extended knee. Torn Anterior Cruciate Ligament (ACL) is a second or third degree sprain of the ACL. The ACL is one of the ligaments that connects the thigh bone (femur) to shin bone (tibia) and helps to stabilize the knee joint. Making sudden jumps or landing from jumps can injure the knee, causing hyperextension which puts stress on the knee and results in its stretching and tearing. This tear may be partial or complete as the knee becomes unstable and buckles.


  • Sports and fitness activities can cause injuries to the knee, when the foot is firmly planted and the knee locks and pivots at the same time. Sports like football, basketball, soccer and gymnastics cause sudden change in direction which stresses and damages the ligaments.
  • Landing or making a jump, especially when the leg is bent or straightened which usually happens in basketball.
  • Missing steps while walking on staircase, stepping into a hole, falling off from moderate or extreme heights, stopping suddenly when leg is bent or straightened.
  • Collision during contact sports such as football.
  • Sudden blows due to car accident.


  • When the knee is injured, a feeling that the knee is giving out from under is experienced. Other symptoms include:
  • A “pop” sound at the time of injury.
  • The knee becomes unstable and within 6 hours of injury, the knee swells. There may be internal bleeding in the joint.
  • Intense pain is experienced in the injured knee.
  • Knee cannot be moved and there is loss of range of motion.
  • The knee becomes tender and pain makes it difficult to walk or bear weight.


  • Before starting the treatment, the doctor carefully examines the knee to check for swelling and tenderness and to ascertain whether the ACL has been torn. Physical examinations include:
  • X-Rays –It does not show injury to the ACL but helps to determine whether the knee has any broken bones or not.
  • MRI scan – MRI creates proper imaging of the soft tissues and injuries to the ACL can be clearly seen.


Torn ACL can be treated both surgically and non-surgically. Surgical treatment may be required for young athletes who need to return to the sports while less active and elderly people can do without surgery. Non-Surgical treatment is best for those who have a very low activity level. If the stability of the knee is intact, braces can be used to stabilize the knee and crutches can be used to avoid putting weight on the legs while walking. Physical Therapy can be used to rehabilitate the knee to restore its normal function. However severe ACL tears have to be surgically reconstructed by orthopedic surgeons and may take six months or more to heal fully. It is advised to properly rest the treated knee for first few months. Strengthening exercises gradually help restore the normal functioning slowly and return the normal range of motion.

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