The way the knee works
The ligaments in your knee are tough bands of elastic connective tissue that support and control the movement of your knee. Your anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) runs diagonally though the centre of your knee and is responsible for the rotation and forward movement of the tibia (shin bone). ACL ruptures are one of the most common knee injuries and occur when the ligament is torn from the knee joint.
“When your ACL is damaged it compromises the movement and stability of your knee. This sort of rupture (or tear) is typically linked with sporting injuries and can sometimes result in damage to other areas of your knee as well,” says Dr. Rhys Clark.
What does it feel like?
ACL ruptures usually result in immediate pain, swelling, and the feeling that your knee will ‘give way’. This instability is the major symptom patients present with; feeling as if they can’t trust their knee anymore and cannot return to sport. Your ACL can be damaged simply by changing directions quickly, stopping suddenly, or landing badly. Or, it can be the result of a direct impact or collision.
“My patients describe an audible popping or cracking sensation in their knee when it’s injured. You’ll likely experience swelling and bruising and will be unable to temporarily bear weight on your damaged knee.”
Deciding on surgery
Firstly, it’s important to point out that your ACL injury may not require surgery. The decision to have ACL surgery should be based on your level of activity and the laxity (looseness) of your knee. Rhys will often work with your physiotherapist to see if strengthening the muscles can gain enough stability to avoid surgery.
“The key to surgically repairing your ACL is ensuring you have good movement in your knee. This can speed up your recovery time, so I can get you back to the freedom of movement you enjoyed before your injury.”
Read more about ACL surgery.