ACL Tear/Sprain

Your anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) is a ligament inside your knee joint that stabilizes your knee.  A full tear of this ligament causes instability in the knee, especially with cutting and changing direction.  Young athletes will often have this ligament surgically repaired, but some athletes and active adults are able to return to activity with high quality rehab only!

An ACL tear most commonly comes from a plant and twist motion while cutting, knee hyperextension, or a high energy trauma (fall, car accident, assault, etc).

– Previous injury. 

– Hip weakness. 

– Poor landing/running mechanics. 

– Gender (females are more prone to this injury).

– Pain in knee. 

– “Pop” sensation or sound. 

– Rapid swelling. 

– Inability to weight bear. 

– Decreased range of motion.

At Home Diagnostic Tests

– None — see symptom checklist.


At Home Care

– Begin edema management immediately – elevation, ankle pumps, ice, NSAIDs as needed, compression. 

– Crutches as needed for walking. 


When to Seek Help

See a physical therapist as soon as possible after injury.  They can determine if you need further assessment by an orthopedic surgeon AND will provide treatment to reduce pain and inflammation on day 1 – you won’t get this in an ortho quick care or PCP’s office!


Inspired Athletx Treatment

Both conservative management and post-surgical care follow a similar structure, with certain weight bearing and range of motion restrictions included after surgery.  The immediate goal is to reduce swelling, improve pain, and increase range of motion through a combination of manual therapy and active exercise.  Progressive return to activity will include general strength training for the core and lower body, improving lower body mechanics, overall mobility, and balance.  As the patient nears return to sport, the focus shifts toward sport specific activities, including running, jumping, and change of direction drills.