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HealthInfo Canterbury

How is an ACL injury treated?

Front view of the knee, showing femur, articular cartilage, lateral collateral ligament, anterior cruciate ligament, lateral meniscus, medial meniscus, medial collateral ligament, fibula, and tibiaYour ACL ligaments stabilise your knees. After an ACL injury, some people find their knee gives way easily when they pivot or twist it. This instability can cause damage in other parts of the knee, like the cartilage and menisci (or meniscus, singular). It can also make the person with the injured knee afraid of moving in certain ways.

People who this happens to may need surgery to stabilise their knee. Surgery may also be offered to athletes or workers who do a lot of pivoting or twisting.

However, people who have a fully functional knee that doesn't give way are unlikely to need surgery. Strengthening exercises that help to keep their knee stable are the best treatment.

In the first few weeks after an injury It's difficult to tell which people will need surgery, so it's best to try strengthening rehabilitation first.

On the next page: Exercise & physiotherapy for ACL injury

Written by a Christchurch physiotherapist. Adapted by HealthInfo clinical advisers. March 2016.

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