ACL Rupture

The anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) is a major ligament in the middle of the knee that provides stability, particularly with twisting and pivoting movements

An ACL injury can be partial or complete. A partial tear of the ACL is an incomplete tear, meaning the majority of the ACL is still intact. A complete tear, or rupture, means that the ACL is no longer continuous and usually results in an unstable knee.

True partial tears are quite rare. Most ACL tears are complete or near complete.

What Causes an ACL Rupture?

An ACL injury often occurs during sports and physical contact – especially stop/start sports that involve a lot of sudden stops, jumps and turns such as AFL football, netball, soccer or basketball.

The ACL can be injured if the knee joint is bent backward, twisted, or bent side to side. The chance of injury is higher if more than one of these movements occurs at the same time.

What are the Signs and Symptoms of an ACL Rupture?

Symptoms of an ACL rupture include:

  • Feeling or hearing a pop in the knee at the time of injury.
  • Immediate and severe pain in the knee.
  • The knee swelling within a few hours of injury.
  • Limited knee movement because of pain and/or swelling.
  • The knee feeling unstable or giving way.

How is an ACL Rupture Diagnosed?

Mr Soong Chua and his team will begin with your medical history and a physical examination of your knee to assess your pain, stability and range of movement before moving onto imaging tests such as x-rays or an MRI scan to assess the damage to the knee including the bones, ligaments, tendons and muscles. Arthroscopy may be needed where small incisions are made to look inside the knee.

What are the Treatment Options for an ACL Rupture?

Mr Soong Chua may suggest treatments depending on how severe the injury is such as:

  • Rest and elevate the knee
  • Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medication
  • Activity modifications – may need to walk with crutches and use a knee immobiliser
  • Exercises and Physiotherapy to try to regain strength and range of motion

ACL reconstruction surgery may be necessary depending on the severity of the symptoms, how much the ACL is torn and whether other parts of the knee are injured. Mr Soong Chua and his team will then consider a range of surgical options as well as rehabilitation options.