ACL Knee Pain

ACL (anterior cruciate ligament) knee pain is a common injury that affects athletes, especially those involved in high-impact sports such as football, soccer, and basketball. The ACL is one of the four main ligaments that connect the femur (thigh bone) to the tibia (shin bone) and helps to stabilise the knee joint. When the ACL is injured, it can cause pain, swelling, and instability of the knee joint, making it difficult to perform daily activities and sports.

What is ACL Knee Pain?

ACL knee pain is typically caused by a partial or complete tear of the ACL. The ACL can be injured in several ways, including sudden twisting movements, landing awkwardly from a jump, or a direct blow to the knee. ACL injuries can also be caused by degeneration over time or from chronic overuse.

Common Signs and Symptoms

The most common sign of an ACL injury is a sudden “popping” sound in the knee, followed by severe pain and swelling. The knee may also feel unstable or give out when walking or standing. Other symptoms may include –

  • Limited range of motion
  • Tenderness or pain on the inside or outside of the knee
  • Stiffness or soreness in the knee
  • Difficulty walking or standing for long periods
  • Discomfort or pain while sitting

How Can it Be Treated?

Treatment for ACL knee pain depends on the severity of the injury. In mild cases, rest, ice, compression, and elevation (RICE) may be recommended to reduce pain and swelling. Physiotherapy exercises may also be prescribed to strengthen the muscles surrounding the knee and improve range of motion. In more severe cases, surgery may be required to repair or replace the torn ACL.

Post-surgery rehabilitation is also important to restore strength and flexibility in the knee joint. A physiotherapist can guide you through exercises to rebuild the muscles around the knee, improve range of motion, and help you return to normal activities.

Preventing ACL Knee Pain

Preventing ACL knee pain is possible with proper training and equipment. Athletes can reduce the risk of ACL injuries by –

  • Using proper technique when performing sports-related activities
  • Wearing appropriate safety equipment, such as knee pads and braces
  • Strengthening the muscles around the knee through exercise and physical therapy
  • Maintaining a healthy weight to reduce stress on the knees

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Scientific References

  1. Khan, R., et al. (2018). Management of anterior cruciate ligament injury: what’s in and what’s out? The Journal of ISAKOS, 3(3), 152-162.
  2. Frobell, R., et al. (2013). Treatment for acute anterior cruciate ligament tear: five year outcome of randomised trial. BMJ, 346, f232.
  3. Ardern, C. L., et al. (2014). Return to sport following anterior cruciate ligament reconstruction surgery: a systematic review and meta-analysis of the state of play. British Journal of Sports Medicine, 48(5), 356-364.
  4. Hewett, T. E., et al. (2016). Understanding and preventing ACL injuries: current biomechanical and epidemiologic considerations – update 2010. North American Journal of Sports Physical Therapy, 1(3), 146-151.