Armstrong Atlantic State University
Anterior Cruciate Ligament injury Anterior Cruciate Ligament injury is the over-stretching or tearing of the anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) in the knee. A tear may be partial or complete; if it is a complete tear, then it will not heal on its own (MedlinePlus, n.d). The ACL is one of four primary ligaments in the knee joint that provide stability. The four ligaments consist of: Medial Collateral Ligament (MCL), Lateral Collateral Ligament (LCL), Posterior Cruciate Ligament (PCL), and the ACL. The medial collateral ligament runs along the inside of the knee and prevents the knee from bending out. The lateral collateral ligament runs along the outside of the knee and prevents the knee from bending in. The posterior cruciate ligament prevents the shin bone from sliding backwards under the femur. The anterior cruciate ligament keeps the knee from overextending. The MCL and the LCL work jointly with the ACL and the PCL in order to keep the knee stable during activity. The MCL and the LCL are the providers of the inner and outer support of the knee. The MCL and the ACL provide support at the center of the knee. An individual’s knee needs all four ligaments in order to maintain continuous stability throughout movement of the knee during activity (MedlinePlus, n.d).
Although females and males both have the exact same knee ligaments, females are more likely to have an ACL tear or injury (Prentice, 2013). More specific, female athletes have four to ten times more ACL injuries then that of males. Doctors theorize that the different rates of injury are due to the contrast of anatomy, knee alignment, ligament laxity, muscle strength, and conditioning (McAlindon). An anatomy difference is that women have a narrower notch than men have; therefore, the space for ACL movement is more limited in women than in men. A knee alignment difference is that the width of the pelvis determines the size of the Q angle. Women have a wider pelvis than men have; therefore, the Q angle is greater in women than in men (McAlindon, n.d). A ligament laxity difference is that female hormones allow for greater flexibility and looseness of muscles, tendons, and ligaments. Although this looseness prevents injury to other areas of the body, in the knee it leads to instability and actually causes ACL injury. A muscle strength difference would be the muscles surrounding the knee of women are not as strong as those of men. The stronger muscles of the men lead to more stabilization (McAlindon, n.d). A conditioning difference is that men develop muscle coordination and reflexes that can protect the knee once they reach the competitive level. These knee reflexes allow strong muscles to control the knee, thereby maintaining stability in it. Some female athletes do not participate in the same sports until a later age. Therefore, their muscle strength and coordination, as well as reflexes, may not be as fully developed when they reach the competitive level (McAlindon, n.d). An unusual characteristic is that females are more likely to have an ACL tear while they are on their menstrual cycle, but the reason why has yet to be determined. The most common sports that record the most ACL injuries would be: basketball, football, soccer, and skiing. Obviously, football records the least amount of ACL injuries because that is an all-male sport. There are three main causes of an ACL injury. One, if the individual takes in an extreme impact on the side of the knee, inside or out. This causation is most commonly found within the sports of football and soccer. Two, if the individual overextends the knee joint. This causation is also common in football and soccer, but is also found mildly in baseball or softball. And third, if the individual quickly stops their movement and suddenly changes direction while in activity consisting of