Acute Knee Injuries – Anterior Cruciate Ligament


Have you hurt your knee? Acute knee injuries can be very painful and disabling, and stop people from exercising for extended periods. For many sportspeople, both recreationally and professionally, the most feared injury is often the knee. There are multiple structures in the knee that can be injured, with the most common including meniscus and the anterior cruciate ligament and the collateral ligaments. Acute injuries to the knee can lead to a faster progression of arthritis over time.


The acute injury of most concern in the knee would be the tearing of the anterior cruciate ligament (ACL). The ACL is essential for control of the knee when moving and playing sports, and when stretched/injured/torn, can cause significant pain and disability in the knee. ACL injuries are common in sports that require a lot of directional changing and accelerating/decelerating. This ligament is often referred to as the ‘crucial’ ligament because of its importance in knee stability. Although ACL tears may cause in isolation, it frequently occurs in combination with other associated injuries (bone bruising, meniscal tears and MCL strains). ACL tears are approximately 9:1 (females:males). This is mainly due to different hip angles and lower limb strength ratios between genders.

Full ACL tears often result in reconstructive surgery, however evidence-based practice has suggested with correct rehabilitation programs, similar long-term outcomes can be achieved conservatively without the need for surgery. One study compared the results of a surgical and non-surgical treatment strategy, where 121 patients between age 18 – 35 were divided into the two groups. Both groups completed a thorough rehabilitation process from early stage of tear. After 2 years, there was no difference reported by patients in terms of knee function. Regardless, the rehabilitation process is vital to ensuring that your knee functions properly in the future.


Possible signs and symptoms of a torn ACL


  • restricted range of motion/inability to extend leg
  • widespread tenderness
  • immediate swelling
  • hearing an audible pop/snap


If you have none of these symptoms, but still feel like you have a weak and unstable knee when walking/exercising, you may have an ACL-deficient knee. This means that while your ACL is in tact, it is not functioning properly to stabilise your knee.


What Get Active can do for you


  • thorough assessment to diagnose which structures have been injured or are underperforming
  • massage, mobilisation and other hands-on therapies to reduce pain and swelling (especially in the immediate phase after injury)
  • safe exercises to do at home to reduce current symptoms and to improve the flexibility and stability of your knee without hindering its recovery
  • provide compressive braces and socks to settle inflammation
  • refer you on for further imaging with all relevant information regarding the state of your injury if deemed necessary


If you have had surgery, or you need to strengthen your unstable knee, GAP can take you through tailored, evidence-based rehabilitation protocols to restore high level function, returning to running and your preferred sports. You will be given time-lines of what you can expect from your recovery and when you will be able to return to what you love!


If you have any questions or would like to book in to see one of our physiotherapists, please do not hesitate to contact Get Active on 1300 8 9 10 11 or email us at



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