How to Test for Symptoms of an ACL Tear

The Anterior-Cruciate-Ligament aka the “ACL,” which is one of two ligaments inside your knee that connects your thigh bone(femur) and shin bone( tibia). FYI, there are four total ligaments which I cover here. An ACL tear is the most common knee injury in sports, especially basketball, football, soccer and skiing/snowboarding. In most cases, athletes acquire an ACL tear or any other tear by:

A.) Sudden movements where an athlete plants their foot with the knee rotating inward at sudden speeds and heavy pressure.

B.) Direct impact from another athlete colliding into your knee or causing your knee to buckle.

If you are like me, you’re pretty damn nervous, angry and unsure of how bad your knee injury is. If you’re impatient and want to try to figure out as much as you can before you see your doctor, here’s a couple symptoms to check:

  • ¬†Hearing a loud “pop” in the knee at the time of injury
  • Sever pain immediately after
  • Swelling worsens within the next couple of hours
  • Inability to move the knee due to pain and swelling
  • Knee feels unstable and occasionally buckles

After you’ve checked these symptoms, make an appointment to see your doctor to give you further examination of your knee. When seeing your doctor, he will assess your knee by using a couple of these knee exams known as the Lachman test and pivot shift test. Additionally, your doctor will use the Mcmurray test and Apley’s test, which assesses a potential meniscus tear because a meniscus tear is simultaneous with an ACL tear. Caution! These test’s are a bit painful because of the awkward positions your doctor will put your knee in in order to properly diagnose the severity of your knee injury.

Lachman test:

Pivot shift: 

Mcmurray test:

Apley’s test:




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