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Anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) injury

  • Alternative Names

    Cruciate ligament injury - anterior; ACL injury; Knee injury - anterior cruciate ligament (ACL)

    First Aid

    An ACL injury should be treated with:

    • Elevating the joint (above the level of the heart)
    • Ice
    • Pain relievers such as nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (like ibuprofen)

    Do NOT play again until you have been evaluated and treated.

    Some people may need crutches to walk until the swelling and pain have improved. For mild injuries, your doctor may suggest physical therapy to help you regain joint motion and leg strength.

    Your doctor may recommend surgery to rebuild the ACL. The old ligament cannot be fixed, so a new one needs to be constructed.

    Do Not
    • In the case of a serious knee injury, do NOT try to move the joint. Use a splint to keep the knee straight until a trained medical professional has evaluated it.
    • Do NOT return to play until you have been evaluated and treated.

    Call immediately for emergency medical assistance if

    Anyone with a serious knee injury should seek medical attention for x-rays and evaluation.

    If the foot is cool and blue after a knee injury, the knee may be dislocated, and blood vessels to the foot may be injured. This is a true medical emergency that requires immediate professional help.