A: The ACL (anterior cruciate ligament) is located on the inside of the knee joint originating from the femur and attaching on the tibia. It helps to provide stability and rotational control of your knee. It also secondarily protects your meniscus and articular cartilage inside your knee from seeing increased stresses that could cause damage.
The ACL can be injured through both contact and noncontact sports. Patients will express they felt a “pop” and shortly afterwards the knee will swell. Usually the swelling will subside, and the patient will feel fine when running in a straight line, but cutting activities will feel different and the knee will give out frequently.
Active people of all ages usually opt to have surgery to reconstruct their ACL. By doing so, it will allow them to return to sports and protect the remaining intra-articular structures in the knee. Return to sports is usually in the four- to six-month range, depending upon severity of injury and progress with rehabilitation. Prevention techniques such as proprioceptive training, plyometrics and core strengthening are now being taught at the grade-school and high school levels.
Information provided by Dr. Jason Sullivan, sports medicine doctor, Des Moines Orthopaedic Surgeons, 6001 Westown Parkway, West Des Moines, (515) 224-4250.