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ACL Injury

ACL Injury Non-contact tears or ruptures are the most common cause of injury to the anterior cruciate ligament. They often occur when athletes decelerate rapidly, followed by a sharp or sudden change in direction (cutting). In jump sports, ACL failure has been linked to heavy or stiff landing as well as twisting or turning the knee while landing, especially when the knee is in the "valgus" ("knock-knee") position. Studies indicate that women in jumping and cutting sports such as football (soccer), basketball, or volleyball, are significantly more prone to ACL injuries than men; this is generally believed to be due to differences between the sexes in knee joint anatomy such as the intercondylar notch and/or ligament size and strength, ligament laxity, general muscular strength, reaction time of muscle contraction and coordination, and possibly training techniques (a new study suggests hormone-induced changes in muscle tension associated with menstrual cycles may be an important factor [1]). Others have shown that high risk knee loads large enough to injure the ACL stem primarily from the hip [2]. Women athletes are being taught safer jumping and landing techniques to better protect them from cruciate injury [3].

Damage to the ACL also occurs with lateral blows to the knee (as happens with a tackle from the side in American football or rugby) and often is accompanied by injuries to the medial collateral ligament (MCL) and the medial meniscus, which is attached to the MCL; physicians are taught "...knee injuries come in threes - anterior cruciate, medial collateral, medial meniscus." Clinical studies, however, have noted that a lateral meniscal tear occurs more commonly than the classic "terrible triad" noted previously[4]. A damaged ACL can be confirmed (clinically) by a physician with the anterior drawer test, the Lachman test, or an MRI.

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