Anterior cruciate ligament injury

The anterior cruciate ligament is situated in the centre of the knee joint and acts to stop the shin bone (tibia) sliding forwards on the thigh bone. It plays an extremely important role in the stability of the knee and if ruptured often leads to instability when changing direction. The injury first became commonly recognised by the general public in the UK when Paul Gascoigne ruptured his during the FA cup final in 1991.

The anterior cruciate ligament is most commonly injured during cutting manoeuvres, that is changing direction suddenly whilst moving at speed. The injured person often hears a crack or pop, the knee swells up very rapidly and they are unable to carry on with the activity and may be unable to walk. All sports that involve changes in direction can cause ACL rupture but the sport that could have been designed to cause ruptures is netball.

Despite the fact that the story of a rupture is so classical, many are still missed by the first doctors to see the injured sportsperson and a delay in diagnosis is therefore common. If the rupture is diagnosed straight away and the sportsperson definitely wishes to return to sport an early reconstruction can be performed. However if the diagnosis is delayed Mr Gordon Shepard is of the opinion that it is more beneficial to wait until the inflammation has gone from the joint before the reconstruction is performed.

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