ACL Injury: What it Is, Causes, Symptoms, and Treatment

Among the common knee injuries is a tear or sprain of the ACL (anterior cruciate ligament). Injuries may range from severe to small and mild tears when ligaments tear or when part of the ligament separates from the bone.

Usually, ACL injuries happen during sports when your feet are planted firmly, and then a sudden force hits the knee and can be treated through surgery done by a professional ACL surgeon. This may happen when you rapidly change direction. Injuries may also happen during daily activities, like awkwardly stepping over items or missing steps on your ladder.

Types of ACL Injuries

When your ligament is hurt, your doctor will grave the injury on a scale of one to three. On the scale of three is the most severe ACL injury. Here is a further breakdown of the injury:

  • Grade 3: Your ligament gets torn and is often divided into two.
  • Grade 2: Your ligament is loosened and stretched. Plus, it has been torn partially, but this situation is rare.
  • Grade 1: In this, your ligament is stretched, but it is still working to stabilize your knee joint.

Who Can Tear Their ACL?

Every one of all ages, abilities, and physical conditions may tear their ACL. Active women also experience a high incidence of ACL when compared to men, as their biomechanics put more pressure on their knees.

In addition, ACL injury is common among kids, especially as youth sports gain more popularity and become competitive.


The major sign of the injury is usually a popping noise. Mostly, this is accompanied by swelling and pain. You may also experience a grinding feeling of kneecap and bones.

Another common sign is not putting weight on the legs. Individuals with mild ACL injuries may feel their knees are not stable.


A physician can diagnose ACL injuries through a physical examination and history. On physical exams, a physician may specifically analyze the motion amount present and then determine whether your ACL is injured.

Normally, X-rays are done to evaluate the presence of fractures. In most patients, MRI scans of your knee might be ordered. The scans may clarify questions about ACL injuries if the exams and history are inconclusive. The scan may as well be helpful in evaluating meniscus or cartilage tissue in your knees.


If you suspect that you have ACL injuries, consider scheduling an appointment with a specialist. During the assessment, your doctor will evaluate whether the ACL has been affected by knowing what caused your injuries.

They will do physical examinations and order imaging tests. Based on the seriousness of your ACL injuries, treatment may include the following:

  • Taking anti-inflammatory medications
  • Surgery
  • Physical therapy so as to strengthen your muscles around the knee and improve motion range
  • Using knee braces for added support
  • Wearing ace bandages
  • Elevating and icing the knee
  • Using crutches or staying off the affected legs temporarily

Final Say

Preventing ACL injuries is vital. You might be at great risk of getting an injury, especially if you are an athlete. Fortunately, neuromuscular training can help improve muscle control and minimize the odds of sustaining ACL injuries.