Anterior Cruciate Ligament (ACL)


The ACL is probably the best-known knee ligament and is most famous for being injured in many elite athletes, in particular footballers. It is also the most commonly injured ligament and where 30 years ago an ACL tear could end a sporting career, in the modern day thanks to advances in research and innovation over 80% of people with ACL tears may return to sport. 


Not all ACL tears require surgery. However, if the patient is experiencing instability with planting and pivoting movements of the leg then surgery is indicated. Additionally, it is speculated that ACL reconstruction may help decrease the rate of osteoarthritis after tearing the ACL. Surgery is in the form of reconstruction using a graft. This graft may be tendon from other parts of the body (hamstrings or patellar tendon) or may be artificial if the surgery is soon after the injury. The procedure is carried out as a day case arthroscopic procedure. 


The rehab is the most crucial part of making a successful recovery from an ACL tear. With the help of our experienced specialist sports physiotherapy team, patients are guided through a stepwise progressive recovery programme initially concerning range of motion then developing onto muscle strengthening and proprioception. Gradually sport specific exercises are introduced into the rehabilitation with the aim to return to play once specific performance criteria are met. The final aspect of rehab is the introduction of an injury prevention programme that decreases the risk of further ACL injury, either in the other knee or re-injury of the reconstructed knee.