The Ultimate Guide to Recognizing and Treating an ACL Sprain

The Ultimate Guide to Recognizing and Treating an ACL Sprain

If you are an athlete, then you know the importance of keeping your ACL healthy. An ACL sprain can sideline you for months, and in some cases, require surgery. In this guide, we will discuss the symptoms of an ACL sprain, how to treat it, and how to prevent it from happening again.

What Is ACL Sprain?

What Is ACL Sprain?ACL refers to the anterior cruciate ligament, which is one of four major knee ligaments. The ACL is located in the center of the knee and attaches the femur (thigh bone) to the tibia (shin bone). It stabilizes the knee joint and helps keep it from hyper-extending.

An ACL sprain is a partial or complete tear of the ACL. It is a common knee injury, especially among athletes who participate in high-impact sports such as basketball, football, and soccer. This condition can range from a mild sprain to a complete tear of the ligament.

Most ACL sprains occur when the knee is hyperextended or twisted forcefully. This can happen when landing from a jump, changing directions quickly, or stopping suddenly. A direct blow to the knee can also cause an ACL sprain. So, if you play a contact sport, you’re at a higher risk for this type of injury.

How To Recognize It?

It is very difficult to tell if you have torn your ACL without a doctor’s help because the symptoms can be very subtle. Some common symptoms that can help you recognize this condition are:

Pain in knee

Many times, people with a torn ACL complain about a “popping” sensation in the knee at the time of injury. The pain in the knee can range from mild to severe and is usually accompanied by swelling.

Difficulty in moving the leg

If you have torn your ACL, you may find it difficult to extend or flex your leg fully. You may also feel considerable weakness in the knee when trying to put weight on it. For example, it may be difficult to stand up from a sitting position.

Unstable knee

A feeling of instability or “giving way” is another common symptom of an ACL tear or sprain. This can happen when the knee joint is moved out of its normal range of motion, such as when pivoting or making a sudden change in direction. It can also occur if the knee is hit hard from the side.


If you have injured your ACL, it is likely that you will experience some swelling in the affected area within 24 hours. This is because the body’s natural response to injury is to send fluid to the area in order to protect it. Swelling can also be a sign of inflammation, which is the body’s response to tissue damage.

Popping or snapping sensation

Popping or snapping sensationSometimes, people with an ACL tear will feel or hear a “popping” sound when the injury occurs. However, not everyone with an ACL tear will experience this symptom. This is because the sprain can damage other structures in the knee, such as the meniscus or cartilage, which can also cause a popping sound.

Overall, these are the most common symptoms associated with an ACL tear. If you are experiencing any of these, it is important to see a doctor or orthopedic specialist as soon as possible for an accurate diagnosis. And, if you do have an ACL tear, prompt treatment is essential for a successful recovery.

What Causes ACL Sprain?

It is not an easy task to identify the sprain of your Anterior Cruciate Ligament or ACL. It generally occurs when there is a sudden change in direction while the foot is planted, or when the knee is hit from the side while it is hyperextended. A few common causes and risk factors are:

  • Direct contact or collision, such as a football tackle
  • Falling awkwardly from a height
  • Changing direction rapidly
  • Stopping suddenly when running
  • Landing from a jump incorrectly
  • Having weak or tight muscles in the thighs or hamstrings

These causes are usually associated with athletes, but anyone can get an ACL sprain. For example, you may get it if you slip on the ice and your knee hyperextends. It is important to understand that ACL sprain is different from other ligament injuries. It is also different from a meniscus tear, which is another common knee injury.

In addition, there are a few risk factors that can increase your chances of getting an ACL sprain. These include:

  • Being female
  • Having a previous ACL injury
  • Being born with abnormal knee ligaments
  • Playing high-demand sports, such as football, basketball, or soccer

It might be difficult to prevent an ACL sprain because it can occur due to a sudden change in direction or contact. However, with the right professional, you can manage the condition and even avoid future injuries.

How Is It Diagnosed?

How Is It Diagnosed?A diagnosis is not an easy thing to come by when it comes to an ACL sprain. Many times, the pain is mild and goes away on its own. But if you have persistent pain or swelling, see your doctor. They will likely ask about your symptoms and how the injury occurred. They will also examine your knee for signs of instability, tenderness, and swelling.

From there, they may order imaging tests, such as an MRI, to get a better look at the knee joint and ligaments. An MRI can show tears in the ligament that might not be detectable by a physical exam alone.

In addition, there might be other tests to rule out other possible causes of your symptoms, such as a meniscus tear or arthritis. Once a diagnosis is made, your doctor will work with you to develop a treatment plan.

So you can see the importance of diagnosis, as it’s not always easy to come by. But if you have persistent pain or swelling, it’s best to see your doctor so they can properly assess the situation.

What Are The Treatment For ACL Sprain?

There are a few different options when it comes to treating an ACL sprain.


This is one of the most common treatments for an ACL sprain. Surgery is usually recommended for people who have a complete tear of their ACL. The surgery involves reconstructing the ligament using a piece of tissue from another part of your body or from a donor.

Recovery from surgery can take several months. You’ll likely need to wear a knee brace and do physical therapy to regain strength and motion in your knee.

A knee brace

It is also an option to treat ACL sprain, a knee brace can help you recover from the injury by providing support and stability to the knee joint. It can also help prevent further damage to the ligament. There are two main types of knee braces:

  1. Functional knee brace: This type of brace is used when you have a lot of instability in your knee joint. It helps to limit the amount of movement in your knee and prevents your leg from moving too far inward or outward.
  2. Rehabilitation knee brace: This type of brace is used after you have had surgery to repair your ACL. It helps to support your knee joint as you regain strength and motion.

Conservative treatment

Conservative treatmentThis is the most common form of treatment and usually requires a combination of the following:

  • Rest: You will need to take it easy and allow your body to heal. This may mean avoiding activities that put stress on your knee, such as running, jumping, or playing sports.
  • Ice: Applying ice to the affected area can help reduce swelling and pain.
  • Compression: Wearing a compression bandage can also help reduce swelling.
  • Elevation: Keeping your leg elevated above your heart can also help reduce swelling.
  • Pain relief: Over-the-counter pain medications, such as ibuprofen or acetaminophen, can help relieve pain.

These types of treatment are believed to work best when started within the first few days after the injury. If you want a non-surgical treatment option, do not hesitate to try these methods.

Physical therapy

Physical therapy may be recommended to help you regain range of motion and strength in your knee. A physical therapist can also teach you exercises to help prevent future injuries. There are several types of physical therapy that may be used to treat this condition. A few common techniques include:

  • Isometric exercises: These exercises help to strengthen the muscles around the knee without putting stress on the joint itself.
  • Weight-bearing exercises: These exercises help to gradually increase the amount of weight that your knee can support. This helps to prevent further injury and strengthens the joint.
  • Range of motion exercises: These exercises help to increase the range of motion in your knee. This is important for regaining the full function of the joint.

Your physical therapist will develop a specific treatment plan based on your individual needs.

So, these are some widely used treatment options for ACL sprain. However, it is always best to consult with a doctor or physical therapist to determine the best course of treatment for your individual situation. With the right approach, most people are able to recover fully from an ACL sprain and return to their previous level of activity.

How ACL Sprain Can Be Prevented?

How ACL Sprain Can Be Prevented?As the condition is caused by overstretching or tearing of the ligament, it is possible to prevent this. Here are a few things that can help you prevent ACL sprain. These include:

  • Wearing the right shoes: Shoes that provide good ankle and arch support can help prevent the condition.
  • Strengthening the muscles: Strong muscles around the knee can help support the joint and prevent injury.
  • Flexibility: Stretching and maintaining flexibility in the muscles can also help prevent injury.
  • Avoiding high-risk activities: Activities that put a lot of stress on the knee, such as football or basketball, can increase the risk of ACL injury.
  • Warm up before exercise: Warming up before participating in any activity can help prevent the condition.

With these measures, you can reduce the risk of developing an ACL sprain. However, if you do experience any symptoms, it is important to seek medical help immediately. Because this can be a serious injury, it is important to get a proper diagnosis and treatment as soon as possible.


In conclusion, an ACL sprain can be a debilitating injury if not treated properly. If you think you may have sprained your ACL, it is important to seek medical attention as soon as possible. Early diagnosis and treatment can help you heal more quickly and prevent further damage to your knee.

Therefore, do not hesitate to contact your doctor or physical therapist if you have any questions or concerns about your ACL sprain. They will be able to provide you with the best possible care and guidance on your road to recovery.

Physical Therapy help patients recover from pain. If you’re experiencing Back pain, Shoulder pain, Knee pain, Neck pain, Elbow pain, Hip pain, or Arthritis pain, a physical therapist at MantraCare can help: Book a physiotherapy session.

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