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ACL Tear (Overview)

Clip Number: 22 of 37
Presentation: Bone and Joint Conditions, Tests, and Procedures
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Reviewed By: Arthur Schoenstadt, MD
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The anterior cruciate ligament, or ACL is a ligament located inside the knee. Ligaments are bands of tough fibers that hold bones together. In the case of the ACL, it holds the thighbone to the shinbone, preventing the shinbone from sliding forward. This is especially important in running and other athletic activities.
The ACL can be injured or torn in many ways. Most people hurt their ACL when they turn quickly while running or doing a sporting activity. When the ACL gets torn, some people hear or feel a "pop" or "snap" in the knee area. Many people also have a swollen or stiff knee after the tear happens.
Once an ACL tear is diagnosed, the treatment often includes:
Activity changes
Physical therapy
If these simpler treatments don't help in 6 weeks to 6 months, and the doctor feels that surgery will help, an ACL reconstruction may be recommended. The goal of ACL reconstruction is to replace the torn or damaged ACL with a new graft.

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