Pain relievers, such as nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (such as ibuprofen)
You also may need:
Crutches to walk until the swelling and pain get better
Physical therapy to help improve joint motion and leg strength
Surgery to rebuild the ACL
Some people can live and function normally with a torn ACL. However, most people complain that their knee is unstable and may "give out" with physical activity. Unrepaired ACL tears can lead to further knee damage. You are also less likely to return to the same level of sports without the ACL.
Do NOT move your knee if you have had a serious injury.
Use a splint to keep the knee straight until you see a doctor.
Do NOT return to play or other activities until you have been treated.
When to Contact a Medical Professional
Call your provider right away if you have a serious knee injury.
Get immediate medical attention if the foot is cool and blue after a knee injury. This means that the knee joint may be dislocated, and blood vessels to the foot may be injured. This is a medical emergency.
Use proper techniques when playing sports or exercising. Some college sports programs teach athletes how to reduce stress placed on the ACL.
The use of knee braces during vigorous athletic activity (such as football) is controversial. It has not been shown to reduce the number of knee injuries, and not specifically ACL injuries.
Griffin L. The female athlete. In: Miller MD, Thopmson SR, eds. DeLee and Drez's Orthopaedic Sports Medicine. 4th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Saunders; 2015:chap 32.
Niska JA, Petrigliano FA, McAllister DR. Anterior cruciate ligament injuries: 1. Anterior cruciate ligament injuries in the adult. In: Miller MD, Thopmson SR, eds. DeLee and Drez's Orthopaedic Sports Medicine. 4th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Saunders; 2015:chap 98.
Nyland J, Mattocks A, Kibbe S, Kalloub A, Greene JW, Caborn DN. Anterior cruciate ligament reconstruction, rehabilitation, and return to play: 2015 update. Open Access J Sports Med. 2016 Feb 24;7:21-32. PMID: 26955296 www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26955296.
C. Benjamin Ma, MD, Professor, Chief, Sports Medicine and Shoulder Service, UCSF Department of Orthopaedic Surgery, San Francisco, CA. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Isla Ogilvie, PhD, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.
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