The ACL joins the shinbone (tibia) to the thighbone (femur) and works as a stabilizer to help avert the shinbone from sliding forward underneath the thighbone. When the knee experiences a severe twist or excessive pressure, the ACL can tear causing the knee to give out. With a ruptured ACL, the knee can feel unsteady and may easily become unstable by the swift planting or pivoting on the leg. The ligament is like a tightly-braided rope and when torn, is not recoverable, even when the tear is fractional.
Each year, between the ages of 14 and 55 at least 1 in 3,000 Americans tear an ACL while playing sports or exercising. Skiers, as well as basketball, soccer and football players, are more likely to rupture their ACL, although the risk for this injury is not limited to a particular level of athlete or age group.
ACL injury Symptoms normally include:
1. Knee with a loud “pop” or a “popping” feeling
2. Inability to continue any ongoing activity due to severe pain
3. Swelling that starts within a few hours
4. Loss of range of motion
5. A feeling of unsteadiness with weight bearing
After an injury to your knee prompt first-aid care can reduce pain and swell instantly. Follow the R.I.C.E. model of self-care at home:
1. General relaxation is necessary for healing and confines weight bearing on the knee.
2. Try to place ice on your knee for 20 minutes at a time every two hours at least, when you’re awake
3. Cover your knee with an elastic bandage or compression wrap around.
4. Elevation. When you Lie down to ensure your knee is propped up on pillows.
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