Anterior Cruciate Ligament Tear (Torn ACL)

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Torn anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) facts

  • The anterior cruciate ligament is one of the four ligaments in the knee that provides stabilization.
  • Torn ACLs are a common knee injury with more than 200,000 occurring every year in the U.S. Almost 100,000 ACL repair surgeries are performed each year.
  • An ACL tear or sprain occurs when a sudden change in direction or pivot occurs on a locked knee.
  • A pop, followed by pain and swelling of the knee are the most common symptoms of an ACL tear.
  • Women are more likely to tear their ACL because of differences in anatomy and muscle function.
  • Treatment goals are to return the patient to his or her preinjury level of function. Arthroscopic surgery may be required to reconstruct the torn ligament.
  • It may take six to nine months to return to normal activity after an ACL injury.
Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 12/10/2013

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Learn about rehabilitation and recovery time after surgery for a torn ACL.

Torn ACL & Surgery Recovery Time

For regular people and pseudo-athletes, the days after arthroscopic knee surgery are spent reducing knee swelling and starting range-of-motion exercises. This process is hampered by a couple of physiologic barriers.