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Anterior Cruciate Ligament (ACL) Injuries

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Topic Overview


You may need to walk with crutches and use a knee immobilizer to keep your knee still for the first few days after the injury.

Your knee will need to be checked by your doctor. It's important to get treatment. If you don't, the injury may become a long-lasting problem. There are two ways to treat the injury:

  • Exercises and training, also called rehab. It takes several months of rehab for your knee to get better.
  • Surgery. You and your doctor can decide if rehab is enough or if surgery is right for you.

If you have surgery, you will also have several months of rehab afterward.

Your treatment will depend on how much of the ACL is torn, whether other parts of the knee are injured, how active you are, your age, your overall health, and how long ago the injury occurred.

There are three main treatment goals:

  • Make the knee stable if it is unsteady, or at least make it stable enough to do your daily activities.
  • Make your knee strong enough to do all the activities you used to do.
  • Reduce the chance that your knee will be damaged more.

The best way to prevent ACL injuries is to stretch and strengthen the leg muscles, especially the front and back muscles of the thigh (quadriceps and hamstrings).

Here are other things you can do that may help prevent ACL injuries:

  • Avoid wearing shoes with cleats in contact sports.
  • Avoid wearing high-heeled shoes.
  • Avoid sports that involve lots of twisting and contact.

Learning about anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) injuries:

Being diagnosed:

Getting treatment:

Living with an ACL injury:


WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

Last Updated: November 14, 2014
This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.
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