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Why Is the ACL So Easy to Injure?

Your anterior cruciate ligament, or ACL, helps hold your knee together. Because of the load it bears, the ACL is also very susceptible to injury. 

As a board-certified foot surgeon at Precision Footcare in Midtown East, New York City, John Jurcisin, DPM, specializes in foot and ankle conditions. And, as an avid distance runner and athlete, he also has a personal understanding of the interconnected nature of your feet and knees.

In this blog, Dr. Jurcisin explains what the ACL is, what can increase your chances of injuring it, and how you can help keep it healthy.

The anatomy of your knee

A joint forms where two or more bones meet. In your knee, it’s your thigh bone, shinbone, and kneecap. But they don’t stay in place on their own. They have four ligaments that bind them together like strong ropes.

You have two collateral ligaments, one on each side of the joint. These ligaments control sideways motion. The other two ligaments are inside your knee joint and cross each other in an “X” formation. These cruciate ligaments manage front and backward movement. The posterior cruciate ligament is on the back, and the ACL is on the front.

In addition to bones and ligaments, you also have two types of cartilage in your knee. Wedges of meniscus cartilage absorb shock, and a coating of articular cartilage helps the bones slide together smoothly.  

Finally, the joint contains tendons connected to muscles, which allow the knee to bend and flex.

Why ACL injuries are common 

This joint may be strong, but it’s also the most complex one in your body, and any of its pieces can sustain damage. When it comes to injuring it, it’s often due to athletic activities.

It helps to think of ligaments as elastic bands. They help prevent too much motion, and they also help create stability in a joint. Your ACL keeps your thigh bone from sliding out in front of your shinbone, and it also provides rotational stability in your knee. But, when stretched too far, the ACL can sustain damage.

Common causes of ACL injuries include the following:

While some knee injuries are difficult to avoid, some factors can increase your chances of suffering an ACL injury, including:

Approximately 150,000 to 200,000 ACL injuries occur each year. They can vary in severity from mildly stretching the ligament to completely tearing it in two, leading to joint instability. Almost all ACL injuries are complete or near-complete tears.

Preventing ACL injuries

If you're looking for ways to reduce your risk of injuring or reinjuring your ACL, Dr. Jurcisin can help. He brings more than 30 years of experience to his podiatry practice, both as a trained physician and an athlete.

After performing a comprehensive assessment, Dr. Jurcisin might recommend various approaches, such as learning proper techniques for performing certain movements or performing exercises to improve your strength and balance. 

Dr. Jurcisin can also diagnose foot problems and abnormal or irregular walking patterns. One way of correcting these issues involves wearing custom orthotics. Orthotic devices go inside your shoes to help improve foot function and stability.

To learn more about ACL injuries and foot care, book an appointment online or over the phone with Precision Footcare today.

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