Sports Injury: Torn ACL

Surbhi Kumar, Anatomy, period 1

What is the ACL?

  • The ACL (anterior cruciate ligament) is one of the four primary ligaments that support the functioning of the knee.
  • It is a piece of striated collagen over an inch long that extends from the femur to the tibia.
  • It is located at the center of the knee.
  • It restricts all the possible movements the knee can undergo, such as intense accelerations that cause enormous forces or sharp pivots and turns.
  • It is the weakest ligament of the four that support the knee, as well as the weakest ligament in the human body.
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What causes a torn ACL?

  • A torn ACL results from abrupt movements that cause enormous forces on the knee that the ACL cannot withstand.
  • Quick pivoting, bending, turning, twisting, or incorrect planting of the foot that causes immense tension in the ACL may cause it to tear.
  • In addition, jumping up and landing with your knees straight and locked instead of flexed may cause your ACL to tear.
  • Females are much more likely to tear their ACLs due to many factors, such as differing hormonal compositions, skeletal structures, and body shapes.
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What are the symptoms of a torn ACL?

  • Those who experience a torn ACL report hearing a distinct "pop" similar to the sound of a rubber band snapping when the injury occurs.
  • The sensation accompanying the "pop" is often felt throughout the entire upper body.
  • The blood vessels located in the knee seep into the joint, causing an immense swelling of the knee.
  • The injury is very commonly accompanied by immense and often unbearable pain.
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How is a torn ACL repaired?

  • The procedure to repair a torn ACL depends on whether or not the person with the torn ACL has finished growing.
  • If the person's growth plates have closed, then a surgeon will drill a hole in the femur to reach the internal region of the knee joint, where the ACL with be replaced with the victim's own tissues or a donor's tissues. The ACL is kept in place with screws.
  • If the person's growth plates have not closed, the surgeon will not mess with the growth plates of the child. Instead, the iliotibial tract (a band of tissue that expands from the pelvis all the way to the bottom of the shinbone) is tightened to stabilize the knee.
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How can I prevent a torn ACL?

  • A torn ACL can be prevented by learning proper squatting, jumping, lunging, planting, pivoting, and landing techniques to ensure that the form of the body while conducting such movements in actual play is correct and unlikely to cause injury.
  • A person can also prevent a torn ACL by taking measures to strengthen his quadriceps through strength and resistance training. An example of such strengthening would be the practice of leg presses.
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