Visit our foundation to give a gift.
View Locations Near Me
Main Campus – Hartford
Connecticut Children’s – Waterbury
Urgent Care – Farmington
Specialty Care Center – Danbury
Connecticut Children’s Surgery Center at Farmington
Specialty Care Center – Fairfield
Search All Locations
Find a doctor
Find A Doctor
Request an Appointment
Amenities and Services
Who’s Who on Care Team
Getting Ready for Surgery
What to Expect—Picture Stories
Pay a Bill
Understanding the Different Fees
Pricing Transparency and Estimates
Raytheon Technologies Family Resource Center
Family Advisory Council
Legal Advocacy: Benefits, Education, Housing
Electronic Health Records
Share Your Story
Pay a Bill
Login to MyChart
Clinical Support Services Referrals
About the Network
Join the Network
Graduate Medical Education
Continuing Medical Education
MOC/Practice Quality Improvement
Educating Practices in the Community (EPIC)
Learning & Performance
Meet our Physician Relations Team
Request Medical Records
Join our Referring Provider Advisory Board
View our Physician Callback Standards
Read & Subscribe to Medical News
Register for Email Updates
Update Your Practice Information
Refer a Patient
Find and Print Health Info
Health Information For Teens
The anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) is one of the ligaments in the knee joint. A ligament is a tough, flexible band of tissue that holds bones and
The ACL connects the bottom of the thighbone (femur) to the top of the shinbone (tibia). The ACL helps keep the knee stable.
The anterior cruciate (pronounced: KROO-she-ate) ligament can tear if an injury stretches it too much. The tear might be partial (through a part of the ACL) or complete (all the way through the ACL).
Most people who tear their ACL feel pain and a “pop” in their knee when the injury happens. Their knee usually gets swollen soon after the injury. After the swelling goes down, someone with an ACL tear usually can walk. But the knee may feel unstable and can “give way” and make the person stumble or fall.
Most ACL tears happen during athletic activity. For example when someone:
The ACL also can tear if the knee is hit forcefully from the side.
ACL tears happen most often during sports that have turning, cutting, and pivoting movements like skiing, soccer, football, basketball, and tennis. Girls tear their ACL more often than guys do.
To diagnose a torn ACL, health care providers ask about the injury and do a physical exam. During the exam, the health care provider presses on the knee and legs and moves them in certain ways. These tests can show if the ACL is torn.
Health care providers also might order imaging tests like:
Right after the injury, an ACL tear is treated with:
Most partial tears can be treated with bracing and physical therapy (PT). A person might need to use crutches as the tear heals.
Some complete ACL tears need surgery. The need for surgery depends on many things, including:
ACL reconstruction surgery uses a graft (piece of tissue) to reconstruct (rebuild) the ACL. The graft can be a tendon, from the patient’s own body (called an autograft) or from someone else who donated the tendon (called an allograft).
ACL repair surgery is usually done arthroscopically. This type of surgery is done using a tiny camera (called an arthroscope) and small instruments that are inserted through small incisions (cuts).
Recovery from ACL surgery can take 6–12 months. If you have an ACL repair, you may use crutches and a leg brace after surgery. Some people might need a knee brace after that.
Physical therapy is important to help the knee heal. PT helps to:
If you had an ACL tear, there’s a higher chance it might happen again. Training programs may help you avoid another ACL tear. These focus on neuromuscular training (NMT). NMT teaches movement patterns that lower the risk of injury, especially while jumping, landing, and changing direction. NMT programs include stretching, plyometrics (jump training), and balance training.
Ask your care team if an NMT program, like PEP training, is right for you.
Recovering from an ACL tear takes time. It’s normal to feel angry, frustrated, or down, especially if you can’t play a sport you love.
While you heal, try to find other ways to stay involved in sports, such as keeping score or being a team manager. Or, if you want to develop new talents besides playing sports, this is a good time to explore a new hobby like playing the guitar, painting, or drawing.
To get the best treatment possible:
If you tore your ACL, you might need this surgery to fix it. Find out what’s involved.
Healthy knees are needed for many activities and sports and getting hurt can mean some time sitting on the sidelines.
MCL injuries happen when excessive pressure is put on the knee joint, causing a torn ligament.
Jumper’s knee is an overuse injury that happens when frequent jumping, running, and changing direction damages the patellar tendon.
It’s fun to play and great exercise, but basketball is also a contact sport, and injuries happen. To stay safe on the basketball court, follow these safety tips.
Playing hard doesn’t have to mean getting hurt. The best way to ensure a long and injury-free athletic career is to play it safe from the start. Find out how.
A good, stable connection at your hip joint is what lets you walk, run, make that jump shot, and shake it on the dance floor. But in some teens â particularly those who are obese â the hip joint is weakened by slipped capital femoral epiphysis (SCFE).
Baseball is by no means a dangerous sport. But it can present a very real risk of injuries from things like wild pitches, batted balls, and collisions in the field.
Note: All information is for educational purposes only. For specific medical advice, diagnoses, and treatment, consult your doctor.
© 1995-2020 KidsHealth®. All rights reserved.
Images provided by The Nemours Foundation, iStock, Getty Images, Veer, Shutterstock, and Clipart.com.