The anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) is an important ligament deep within the knee which helps to keep the thigh bone and shin bone normally aligned. The ligament can become injured with twisting injuries which commonly occur during sporting activities such as football, netball, basketball and skiing. When an ACL rupture occurs, a pop or a snap is felt and the knee will swell immediately. The pain may improve after a few weeks but the ligament often does not heal well and this can result in the knee giving way and feeling unstable. 

 

When ACL ruptures are suspected based on patients symptoms and clinical examination findings, an MRI scan is performed to confirm the diagnosis. An MRI scan is also useful at identifying other knee injuries which can occur at the same time as an ACL rupture, such as meniscal tears.

 

The treatment of ACL ruptures depends on the presence of instability symptoms and the activity level of the patient. For patients who do not take part in regular activities that require pivoting on the knee or who have little or no instability symptoms, then building up muscle strength around the knee with a dedicated physiotherapy programme can provide the knee with good stability and avoid the need for surgery. However if patients have persistent instability symptoms despite physiotherapy or take part in high demand pivoting activities then an ACL reconstruction is often recommended.

Mr Craik provides private knee consultations at Ashtead Hospital in Surrey and will discuss with you the treatment options available.