An anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) injury is a tear in one of the knee ligaments that join the upper leg bone to the lower leg bone. The ACL helps keep your knee stable.
Your ACL can be injured if your knee joint is bent backward, twisted, or bent side to side. The chance of injury is higher if more than one of these movements occurs at the same time. Contact (being hit by another person or object) also can cause an ACL injury.
An ACL injury can cause knee pain, swelling, and weakness. Rest and physical rehabilitation (rehab)—and sometimes surgery—are important to prevent a long-lasting knee problem.
ACL injuries range from mild, such as a small tear, to severe, such as when the ligament tears completely or when the ligament and part of the bone separate from the rest of the bone.
Medical Review:William H. Blahd Jr. MD, FACEP - Emergency Medicine & E. Gregory Thompson MD - Internal Medicine & Adam Husney MD - Family Medicine & Freddie H. Fu MD - Orthopedic Surgery