What Does Your ACL Do?

What Does Your ACL Do?

It's easy to take your knees for granted. Sitting, standing, walking, jumping — it’s all in a day's work for this powerhouse joint. In fact, many people don’t appreciate the wide range of functions their knees have until a problem occurs, such as a tear in the anterior cruciate ligament (ACL).

At our office in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, Dr. Jeremy Woodson and our highly skilled staff treat everyone, including elite athletes. Using state-of-the-art protocols, we can aid in your recovery from a wide range of injuries, including injuries of the ACL, as well as provide preventive care.

Anatomy of the knee

The knee consists of three bones — the femur (thighbone), the tibia (shinbone), and the patella (kneecap). Four ligaments connect the bones, including the collateral ligaments on the sides of the knee and the cruciate ligaments, which are inside the knee joint. They play an important role in making sure the knee joint is stable.

Purpose of the ACL

The two cruciate ligaments create an X shape with the posterior cruciate ligament in the back and the ACL in the front. They work together to allow the knee to be able to move back and forth. The ACL also serves the essential purpose of preventing the femur from sliding backward on the tibia as well as keeping the tibia from moving forward on the femur.

ACL tear

Out of the four ligaments in the knee, the ACL is the one most often injured. When that happens, it may be accompanied by a popping sound and the feeling of the knee giving out. Other symptoms can include swelling and pain, the loss of full range of motion, and discomfort when walking.

Several actions can cause an injury to the ACL. Slowing down when running and suddenly stopping can both cause a problem as can quickly changing directions or landing incorrectly after jumping. A direct hit can also cause an injury.

Diagnosis and treatment

Diagnosis typically involves X-rays along with an examination to test the knee's range of motion. That combination assesses whether the injury is a sprain or complete tear.

In cases where the ACL is sprained (i.e., stretched), rest and physical therapy is often recommended. For people with a torn or ripped ACL, the common treatment is reconstruction, usually performed with minimally invasive arthroscopic or robotic surgery.

If you've experienced a significant knee injury, call our office today at 405-233-3602 to begin the road to recovery.

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