ACL injury

08 Mar ACL injury

Mid-way through the AFLW and about to start AFL and local football competitions, we will often hear about the dreaded- ACL injury.

What is an ACL injury?knee-pain

A tear or sprain of the anterior cruciate ligament of the knee. This is a ligament that is inside your knee joint and is one of the four major ligaments stabilising the knee. The ACL works to limit excessive motion.

Common Causes

An ACL injury is usually related to a sports injury. They can occur through contact with another player or non-contact such as landing from a jump or changing direction rapidly. Approximately 80% of all ACL injuries are non-contact.

There is a higher incidence of ACL injuries in females compared to males. However it is unclear why this is. There are many suggestions such as differences in pelvis alignment, effects of oestrogen on ligaments, strength and neuromuscular control. It is likely a combination of all of these.

When you injure your ACL, you might hear a popping sound and have your knee give out on you. It is then quickly followed by a haemarthrosis, which is bleeding into the knee joint. This gives the impression of the knee joint swelling quickly.

About half of all ACL injuries occur along with damage to other stuctures in the knee, such as the meniscus, articular cartilage, bone or other ligaments.


To test for an ACL injury it is best to assess the knee within the first hour following the injury, prior to the swelling restricting movement. However, your physiotherapist or medical practitioner will be able to assess and refer for imaging as required.

The initial management of an acute knee injury such as an ACL tear is

  • RICE for 48-72 hrs for 20 minutes every 2 hrs (Rest, Ice, Compression, Elevation)
  • No HARM (Heat, Alcohol, Running, Massage)
  • Seek the assistance of a Sports Medicine practitioner – for assessment and referral for imaging as required


Following diagnosis of an ACL tear there are two options for management. Conservative management and rehabilitation or surgery and rehabilitation. There have been good outcomes for both options and the choice is dependent on your individual circumstances.

Regardless of the course of management it is important to begin rehabilitation to regain your strength, movement and proprioception as soon as possible. At SportsFit we have the tools and sports physios to help assess your injury, and provide rehabilitation to target your goals.  We have been helping people recover conservatively and also helping people pre- and post- ACL reconstruction.