Anterior Cruciate Ligament (ACL)

This week I am looking at Rugby players ACL and the injuries experienced.

Firstly, the ACL is in the middle of the knee, and it prevents the shin bone from sliding out and in front of the thigh bone. The type of injury you can have with your ACL is tearing or over-stretching of this ligament. You can either partially or fully tear the ligament. The middle of the ligament can either be torn, or the ligament is pulled off the thigh bone. acltear_large

Causes of injury

  • Being hit on the side of the knee as a result of being tackled
  • Quickly stopping whilst on the move & changing direction whilst running. When playing Rugby you have to move quickly, change direction abruptly to swerve
    between potential tackles
  • When landing, so after a lineout, being dropped onto the floor
  • Turning around whilst being tackled. When going into a tackle, players turn around so that they can easily pass the ball to player 9 when on the floor

Another common injury for Rugby players is tearing their MCL, therefore these two tears can link.

The red circle around the knee highlights how the knee rotates during the player suddenly stopping and trying to change direction. Through the knee rotating it can lead to the ACL tearing as he gets tackled by the opposing team.

Symptoms of injury

  • Swelling around the knee joint, which can occur hours after the injury has happened
  • Sharp pains through the knee joint when applying pressure to it, so simple tasks such as walking is difficult
  • A sound like a ‘pop’ as the injury happens

After care

  • Like last week, a common after care treatment is to have your leg elevated, and put ice on it
  • No sport should be carried out until the ACL has repaired
  • Sometimes crutches are provided as some tears are worse than others, the pain when putting pressure on your leg can be excruciating and therefore crutches may be offered
  • Physiotherapy may be given as you may need to build and strengthen your joint motion and leg strength so that it is possible to carry on playing sport
  • Unfortunately if the tear is too severe, surgery may be needed to rebuild the ACL

If ACL tears haven’t fully recovered it can lead to further damage later on.

For further information and what NOT to do after injury, follow this link:


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