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The Anterior Cruciate Ligament is one of two central ligaments that support the knee. ACL injuries occur most frequently in planting and cutting sports such as soccer and basketball. ACL injuries are thought to occur more often in women then in men due to the anatomical differences between them.

The Anterior Cruciate Ligament also know as the ACL is located behind the patella (kneecap). It connects the femur and tibia. The ACL acts as a seat belt in the knee, it keeps the tibia from slipping as a result of jerky movements. Since women s hips are wider it may put extra pressure on the ACL, making it more vulnerable to injury. High estrogen levels at mid-cycle may also make the ACL more likely to tear from to much movement. Women tear their ACL s at a rate of two to eight times that of men.

The ACL is listed as the most commonly injured ligament in the knee. Most often when ACL injuries occur the knee may feel as if it is coming apart or giving way, and a commonly described pop may be heard at the time of the injury. most athletes are unable to continue participating in their activity, but some are able to stand and walk. Swelling usually begins in the first few hours after injury. Pain progressively worsens and muscle spasms may occur, A complete exam at the time of the injury is ideal.

Anterior Cruciate Ligament reconstruction s are performed using arthroscopic surgery. The surgery is performed by removing the damaged section of the ACL and replacing it with a graft from the patella tendon, hamstring tendon, or a cadaver graft. To connect the graft back into the knee two tunnels are drilled one into the tibia and one into the femur. Then two small pieces of bone are placed in the tunnels and then the graft is attached to the bones.

Traditional rehabilitation after surgery involves a period of rest then the gradual introduction of exercises to improve range of motion, strength, and functional ability. Maximum recovery after ACL surgery requires a rehabilitation program that starts directly after surgery. It is important for a patient to complete their exercise program with consistency. Recovery can take from four to nine months and on the average of six months for the knee to completely heal correctly.

ACL injuries are a major part of the sports world. When they occur they should be taken care of quickly and efficiently to ensure a athletes return to sports.


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