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What is the anterior cruciate ligament?

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Quick Answer

The anterior cruciate ligament, or ACL, is one of the two cruciate ligaments in a human knee, notes WebMD. As one of the major ligaments in the knee, the ACL plays a key role in controlling knee movement and ensuring bones do not rub against each other.

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Full Answer

Cruciate ligaments inside the human knee cross each other to form an X shape, explains OrthoInfo. The anterior cruciate ligament is at the front, with the posterior cruciate ligament at the back. These ligaments work together to control knee motion. The ACL prevents the tibia from sliding in front of the femur, providing the knee with rotational stability.

A tear in the anterior cruciate ligament is one of the most frequently occurring knee injuries. More than 100,000 ACL tears occur in the United States every year, reports Wikipedia. Most ACL injuries occur during the landing or planting of the knee, especially while playing sports. Anterior cruciate ligament injuries can occur with or without contact.

Depending on the severity of an ACL injury, a complete reconstruction of the cruciate ligament may be necessary. An autograft using issue from a patient's body is the most common method for ACL reconstruction, according to WebMD. The surgeon typically takes tissue from the hamstring or the patellar tendon to reconstruct the ACL. Recovery time for ACL reconstruction surgery takes between six and 18 months.

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