If you ever had any sort of injury, especially a knee injury, you probably appreciate how your knees power you through various sports and activities: kicking, jumping, running, and pivoting. To avoid knee injuries, it helps to understand how your knees work and what you can do to protect or support them.
What’s in a Knee?
The knee is a joint, the largest joint in the body. Your knees provide stability and allow your legs to bend, swivel, and straighten. The knee is made up of bones, cartilage, muscles, ligaments, and tendons – all working as one. What makes knee injuries complicated is that they could be caused by stress or damage to any or all of these parts. The knee sits in the middle of three bones: the tibia (your shinbone), the femur (your thighbone), and the patella (the kneecap). The patella is a flat and round bone that protects the knee joint.
The anterior cruciate ligament can be injured in several ways:
- Changing direction rapidly
- Stopping suddenly
- Slowing down while running
- Landing from a jump incorrectly
- Direct contact or collision, such as a football tackle
What is an ACL tear?
The ACL is one of the four main ligaments within the knee that connect the femur to the tibia. The knee is essentially a hinged joint that is held together by the medial collateral (MCL), lateral collateral (LCL), anterior cruciate (ACL) and posterior cruciate (PCL) ligaments.
The anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) is a tough band of tissue joining the thigh bone to the shin bone at the knee joint. It runs diagonally through the inside of the knee and gives the knee joint stability. When the ACL tears, it is often a result of too much stress on the ligaments, which can cause them to stretch too far or snap.
Symptoms of an ACL injury:
When you injure your anterior cruciate ligament, you might hear a “popping” noise and you may feel your knee give out from under you. Other typical symptoms include:
- Loss of full range of motion
- Tenderness along the joint line
- Discomfort while walking
- Pain with swelling
Within 24 hours, your knee will swell. If ignored, the swelling and pain may resolve on its own. However, if you attempt to return to sports, your knee will probably be unstable and you risk causing further damage to the cushioning cartilage (meniscus) of your knee.
If you have injured your ACL or are experiencing knee pain, call the office of Dr. Bill Hefley at (800) 336-2412 to request an appointment, or request one online.