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The problem

  • The ACL is the stabilising ligament of the knee, and acts to prevent buckling of the knee
  • The mechanism of injury is usually from a pivoting action on a grounded foot, usually during sport.
  • Injury can be as a partial or total rupture and management may change according to degree of damage
  • When the ACL is completely torn, surgery is a strong possibility to reconstruct the ligament
 Hints for self-management
  • Initial injury management is as for most soft-tissue injuries;
  • Rest and immobilise, use crutches to assist with walking
  • Ice for 20 minutes every 2-3 hours for the first 3 days
  • Elevation, as able, lying on your back with leg elevated
  • Seek diagnosis by seeing your GP or visiting one of the experts at Sydney Sports & Orthopaedic Physiotherapy, and the decision to confirm with imaging such as MRI may be made at that time
Interesting facts
  • A ‘pop’ or ‘crack’ sound is often heard during injury
  • Usually there is initial pain, although with a complete tear the pain subsides quickly (within minutes) but the knee often feels ‘unstable’, and may give way
  • Often ACL injuries can occur in combination with injuries to other structures such as the medial collateral ligament or medial meniscus

Management options

  • ACL tears require review by an Orthopaedic Surgeon
  • The surgeon will discuss with you both conservative and surgical options
  • A full tear may be managed with a surgical reconstruction, using a patellar tendon or hamstrings graft, or more recently with a synthetic ligament (LARS)

What you can expect/look out for

  • Immediate swelling and bruising of the knee
  • The knee will feel ‘unstable’ and may buckle or give way on you

More information

  • A knee reconstruction will mean time away from sport and significant rehabilitation
  • Return to sport in most cases is after 6 months
  • Unloading the tendon in the initial phases will help with pain. These can include taping, heel raises and orthotics



At Sydney Sports and Orthopaedic Physiotherapy our highly qualified physiotherapists specialise in the assessment, treatment and prevention of neuromusculoskeletal injuries.

Contact us today – 9252 5770


This handout was prepared by Sydney Sports and Orthopaedic Physiotherapy and is intended as a general information service. Please note that the information provided is not intended as a substitute for advice from a registered physician or healthcare professional. If symptoms persist, please consult your doctor.

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