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Anterior Cruciate Ligament (ACL) Injury: Overview

What is an anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) injury?

The anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) is a commonly injured ligament in the knee. The ACL works to stabilize the knee and plays an especially important role when performing activities which require quickly changing direction, such as soccer, football and basketball.

Athletes who have torn their ACL sometimes report a sensation of their knee “giving out." Short term, this makes it difficult to play sports. Long term, it is believed that this “giving out” causes damage to other structures in the knee, including the cartilage, which can cause arthritis. Doctors at Children’s Hospital Colorado believe that surgical reconstruction is the best treatment for long-term preservation of the knee and for young athletes to make an early return to sports. See what an injury to the ACL looks like.

Who is at risk to injure their ACL?

Anyone can suffer an ACL injury; however, proper training can help athlete minimize their risk. Females are approximately six times more likely to tear their ACL than males due to reasons ranging from differences in bone structure to muscle imbalances.

Some research shows that females who participate in training programs to help strengthen specific muscles may decrease their risk of ACL injury. Children's Hospital Colorado offers the Sportsmetrics Program, which helps young athletes avoid injuries. Learn more about how we help teens prevent sports injuries.

Helpful resources for ACL injury:

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