The anterior cruciate ligament(ACL) is a 3-4cm long band of fibrous tissue that connects the femur(thigh bone) to the tibia(shin bone).It helps to stabilize knee joint while performing twisting activities and controls the rotation forces developed during side stepping, pivoting and landing from a jump.
The ACL injury is common during running ball sports or skiing due to pivot, side step or jumping activities. Patients frequently hears or feel a snap or crack accompanied with pain. Pain is followed by swelling within an hour of injury. Initial treatment consists of ice, compression bandages and walking with the help of crutches.
The goal of treatment of an injured knee is to return the patient to their functional activity without risk of further injury to the joint. Treatment may be without surgery (conservative) or with surgery. Those patients who wish to pursue competitive sports or are involved in a occupation that demands a stable knee are at risk of repeated injury resulting in tears to menisci, damage to joint surface resulting in degenerative arthritis and further disability. In such cases, surgical reconstruction is recommended. Those who have ruptured ACL but are content with activities that require less in a way of stepping and jumping activities may opt for conservative management. Conservative treatment is by physical therapy aimed at reducing swelling and pain and restoring range of motion and muscle power of knee joint.
Surgical reconstruction involves placing a graft inside the knee by arthroscopic surgery (keyhole).