Understanding ACL Injuries and The Recovery Process.

  • Posted September 7, 2023

By Ascent Physio Natasha Lohues

Introduction to ACL Injuries

The human body is a remarkable piece of engineering, comprised of complex systems working in harmony. One crucial component that often takes center stage in discussions about physical activity and sports injuries is the Anterior Cruciate Ligament (ACL). This small yet mighty ligament plays a pivotal role in maintaining stability in the knee joint. In this blog post, we’ll delve into what the ACL is, its significance, and how it commonly becomes injured and what the recovery process looks like.

The Anterior Cruciate Ligament (ACL): An Overview

The Anterior Cruciate Ligament, commonly referred to as the ACL, is a ligament located deep within the knee joint. Ligaments are strong, flexible bands of tissue that connect bones to each other, providing stability and support to joints. The ACL specifically functions to connect the thighbone (femur) to the shinbone (tibia) and is positioned diagonally across the knee joint. Its primary role is to prevent excessive forward movement of the tibia relative to the femur and to assist in rotational stability.

Importance of the ACL

The ACL plays a crucial role in maintaining the integrity and functionality of the knee joint during various movements. It’s most active during activities that involve sudden changes in direction, pivoting, jumping, and decelerating. In sports such as basketball, soccer, football, and skiing, where rapid movements and shifts in direction are common, a healthy ACL is vital for optimal performance and injury prevention.

Common Causes of ACL Injuries

ACL injuries are prevalent, particularly in sports that involve high-impact activities and quick directional changes. The injury often occurs when there is a sudden and forceful twisting or pivoting motion in the knee joint. Some common scenarios that lead to ACL injuries include:

1. Sudden Stops and Direction Changes: Abruptly stopping while running or rapidly changing direction, especially when the foot is firmly planted, can put immense stress on the AC
2. Landing Incorrectly: Improper landing techniques after a jump, such as landing on a hyperextended knee, can result in ACL tears.
3. Direct Impact: A hard impact to the knee, often seen in contact sports, can cause the ACL to tear or stretch beyond its capacity.
4. Overextension: Hyperextending the knee joint, especially when combined with rotational forces, can lead to ACL injuries.

Signs and Symptoms of ACL Injuries

When an ACL injury occurs, individuals often experience a popping sound at the time of injury, followed by pain, swelling, and instability in the knee. Walking and weight-bearing can become challenging, and the knee might give out during movement.

Treatment for ACL injuries

Treatment for ACL injuries can range from conservative approaches, like rest, physical therapy, and bracing, to surgical intervention, particularly for athletes or individuals with severe tears. Rehabilitation plays a critical role in recovery, helping to restore strength, flexibility, and stability to the knee. Navigating an ACL treatment plan can be daunting, but you’re not alone in this journey. Our team of skilled clinicians is here to provide expert guidance, unwavering support, and personalized attention. Your treatment plan will be customized to address your unique needs, goals, and challenges, ensuring that you’re on the path to recovery that’s right for you.

Info-graphic of ACL treatment stages


The Anterior Cruciate Ligament is a small but critical structure within the knee joint, essential for stability during dynamic movements. ACL injuries, often caused by abrupt changes in direction and high-impact activities, can have significant implications for athletes and active individuals. Your ACL treatment journey at Ascent Health is more than just a recovery process; it’s an empowering transformation that leads to renewed strength, agility, and the triumphant return to the activities you love. Whether you choose conservative treatment, surgery, or a hybrid approach, our team is committed to guiding you every step of the way. With tailored treatment plans, expert guidance, and the spirit of resilience, your comeback story starts here. Embrace the journey, conquer the challenges, and ascend to new heights of athletic triumph.

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