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ACL Tears-Are there different types of tears?

Injuries to the ACL (anterior cruciate ligament) are relatively common knee injuries among athletes. They occur most frequently in those who play sports involving pivoting (e.g. football, basketball, netball, soccer). They can range from mild (such as small tears/sprains) to severe (when the ligament is completely torn). Both contact and non-contact injuries can occur, although non-contact tears and ruptures are most common. Females tend to have a higher incidence rate of ACL injury than males, that being between 2.4 and 9.7 times higher in female athletes competing in similar activities.


Today we will look at three major types of ACL injuries and the symptoms associated with ACL tears.


ACL Knee

Direct Contact: This type of contact occurs in about 30% of cases and usually requires direct impact to the outside of the knee or lower leg. Examples are a sideways football tackle, a misdirected soccer kick that strikes the knee or a sliding tackle in soccer.


Indirect Contact: This type of injury occurs when a person or object strikes a part of the body other than the knee itself, causing excessive forces to be transferred through the knee (such as a direct blow to the thigh, rotating the thigh backwards away from the shin resulting in an ACL tear.



Non-Contact: This type of injury occurs in 70% of cases and is sustained when a deceleration or change in direction (pivot) force is applied to the knee, causing the knee to twist away from the thigh, which results in ACL Tear.


All ACL tears will either have some or all of the symptoms listed below. Please read on to find out.



Symptoms ACL Tear

Occurs after either a cutting manoeuvre or single leg standing, landing or jumping activity

There may be an audible pop or crack at the time of injury

A feeling of initial instability which may be masked later by extensive swelling

Episodes of giving way especially on pivoting or twisting motions. Patient has a trick knee and predictable instability

A torn ACL is extremely painful, particularly immediately after sustaining the injury

Swelling of the knee, usually immediate and extensive, but can be minimal or delayed

Restricted movement, especially an inability to fully straighten the knee

Possible widespread mild tenderness

Tenderness at the medial side of the joint (inside of knee) which may indicate cartilage injury


If you are experiencing knee pain symptoms, please seek the assistance of a healthcare professional for advice. Give us a call today on 9583 5200 to book an appointment or book online now.


By Kyri Christou – Exercise Physiologist


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