ACL Knee Injury Symptoms, Diagnosis and Treatment Options

Dr. Jordan Leith, MD, MHSc, FRCSC, Surgeon, discusses ACL Knee Injury Symptoms, Diagnosis and Treatment Options

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Dr. Jordan Leith, MD, MHSc, FRCSC, Surgeon, discusses ACL Knee Injury Symptoms, Diagnosis and Treatment Options
Video transcript

Featuring Dr. Jordan Leith, MD, MHSc, FRCS, Orthopedic Surgeon Video Title: ACL Knee Injury Symptoms, Diagnosis and Treatment Options Duration: 2 minutes, 54 seconds

ACL injuries are injuries to a ligament that’s found within the knee. ACL stands for anterior cruciate ligament.

If we look at a knee model – again, this is the kneecap on the front of the knee, the thighbone, and the shinbone. And inside the knee, if you flex the knee, you can see there’s a structure passing from medial to lateral.

This is your anterior cruciate ligament, and what this ligament does, is it prevents rotation of the knee and anterior translation of the shinbone on the thighbone. And basically, that’s how you injure your anterior cruciate ligament, when you’re involved in pivoting, shifting sports.

So if you plant and twist, and you get hit or you’re on artificial turf or you lose your footing somehow, you will potentially tear your ACL. People that tear their ACL will oftentimes say that they feel a pop or heard a pop in their knee. And then their knee feels loose or unstable, or it felt as if their knee shifted.

If you think you’ve injured you ACL, you will get some swelling, but you may not always have swelling the knee. You will not likely be able to continue playing your sport immediately following the injury.

Once you’ve been diagnosed with an anterior cruciate ligament tear, you should undertake physiotherapy to get your range of motion back in the knee, get rid of any swelling that you have.

Your family doctor may consider a brace for an ACL. This would best be a custom type brace. It’s not always necessary, depending on your situation.

Most individuals who want to continue playing pivoting, shifting sports, or participating in those sorts of activity will require surgery to reconstruct the anterior cruciate ligament. What that involves is taking a tendon graft from around the knee, so we drill from the medial side into the knee, over to the femoral side, or the thigh bone side, and we pass a tendon graft that we’ve harvested from around the knee, through those tunnels, and fix it in the tunnels with screws and other devices.

And that becomes your new ligament. This is all done arthroscopically. It’s done as a daycare surgery. You’re able to leave on crutches the same day of your surgery.

Recovery from that surgery for a return to sport varies, depending on the amount of physiotherapy and rehab that you’re able to participate in. But generally, the minimum would be six months back to sport. But generally, between 6 and 12 months is usually the timeline to get back to pivoting, shifting sports.

If you think you have an ACL injury or you have questions regarding an ACL injury, then I would see the advice or consultation with your family doctor, a sports medicine physician, or a physiotherapist.

Presenter: Dr. Jordan Leith, Orthopaedic Surgeon, Burnaby, BC

Local Practitioners: Orthopaedic Surgeon

Knee Injury Video Quiz ( 38 participated.)

ACL Injury


ACL stands for anterior cruciate ligament


The ACL ligiment is situated in the centre of the knee and helps to prevent rotation of the knee.


ACL injuries do not typically require bracing or surgery.


ACL injuries are typical in sports where pivoting or shifting is required, like tennis or soccer.

This content is for informational purposes only, and is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified healthcare professional with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.

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