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What is the ACL?

Non-Operative ACL Rehabilitation

The anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) is one of the major ligaments of the knee. It is located in the middle of the knee and runs from the femur (thighbone) to the tibia (shinbone). The ACL prevents the tibia from sliding out in front of the femur. Together with the posterior cruciate ligament (PCL), it provides rotational stability to the knee.

Causes of ACL Tears

An ACL injury occurs when the knee is forcefully twisted or hyperextended. An ACL tear usually occurs with an abrupt directional change when the foot is fixed on the ground or when the deceleration force crosses the knee. Changing direction rapidly, stopping suddenly, slowing down while running, landing from a jump incorrectly, and direct contact or collision, such as a slide tackle can also cause injury to the ACL.

Symptoms of ACL Tears

When you injure your ACL, you may hear a pop sound and may feel as though the knee has given way. Within the first two hours to two days after injury, your knee will swell and you may have a buckling sensation in the knee during twisting movements.

Diagnosis of ACL Tears

The diagnosis of an ACL tear is made by reviewing your symptoms and medical history and performing a physical examination of the knee. Other diagnostic tests such as X-rays, MRI scans, stress tests of the ligament and arthroscopy may also be ordered.

Treatment of ACL Tears

Treatment options include both non-surgical and surgical methods. While surgical options can be appropriate for some patients, numerous research studies have shown that many patients can experience full recovery without undergoing surgical reconstruction.

We offer a non-operative protocol for treating recent ACL tears. This protocol is based on the latest research which shows that a combination of bracing, exercise, and other therapeutic interventions can result in a healed ACL, a faster recovery than surgery, and long term physical performance that is similar or better to individuals who undergo surgical reconstruction.

For the best results it is important that you reach out to us soon after your injury, although we can help patients who have an older ACL tear. We can also help patients who have torn their repaired ligament. Contact us at for any questions or to schedule your appointment. You can also book your appointment online at the link above.

Other Knee Topics

  • American Shoulder and Elbow Surgeons
  • AOSSM-American Orthopaedic Society for Sports Medicine
  • Midwestern University