ACL Injury


What is an ACL Injury?

The anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) is a band of dense connective tissue in your knee. The ACL is a key structure in the knee joint. It is composed of strong, fibrous material and assists in controlling excessive motion. When excessive force is placed on your ligament it can be partial or completely torn.


What Causes an ACL Injury?

ACL injuries are typically the result of non-contact twisting injuries. As your knee rotates inwards, strain is put on your ligament, which can result in a full or partial tear of the ACL. This can be from changing direction, landing awkwardly from a jump, stopping suddenly, or receiving a direct blow to your knee or having a collision, such as a tackle in footy.        


Common Symptoms of an ACL Injury

Common symptoms of an ACL injury include:

  • A popping sensation in the knee.
  • Severe pain and inability to continue activity.
  • Rapid swelling.
  • Loss of range of motion.
  • A feeling of instability or “giving way” with weight bearing.


ACL Injury Treatment

Partial ACL tear treatment.

Most partial tears are managed conservatively. Following a thorough assessment of your strength, range of movement and function, our physiotherapists will devise a home exercise program. This typically includes some lower limb strengthening and range of movement exercises. As your strength, pain and range of movement improves you will then progress onto more advanced sport specific exercises and a return to sport plan will be made. This will ensure you are ready to get back into the sports activities and exercises you enjoy.

Full ACL tear treatment.

Most, but not all, complete tears are managed surgically with a ligament reconstruction. The surgeon will use either a graft from your hamstring or patella tendon. Following surgery, early physiotherapy is vital in regaining strength, range of movement and ultimately getting you back into sport 9-12 months post operation.

During your initial appointment, our physiotherapists will do some strength and range of movement testing. This provides us with data allowing us to create a strength and condition program tailored to your injury. This, coupled with the use of our specialist equipment in the clinic, will ensure you are loading sufficiently with good technique for you to achieve the best results possible.

Our physiotherapists will guide you through these tests, which are based on criteria-based protocol. This allows you to progress through the stages at your own pace until you’re able to begin participating in sports activities and exercise you enjoy.

Conservative management for full ACL tears.

Should you and your surgeon come to the decision that surgery is not the best route for you, strengthening will become an even more vital part of your recovery. Our physiotherapists will guide you through a strength and conditioning program to ensure you have rebuilt enough strength and stability around your knee to manage your daily activities and hobbies.

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