ACL Tears

Treatment for an ACL Tear

A tear in the anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) in your knee can lead to symptoms of pain, swelling, and an often debilitating feeling of instability.

ACL tears are caused by a forceful twisting action – when you will feel sudden, severe pain and may even hear a popping sound.

If you suspect an anterior cruciate ligament tear or any other knee injury, you should seek specialist medical advice as soon as possible.

Headed by orthopaedic surgeon, Simon Moyes, the Capital Orthopaedics team brings leading-edge clinical expertise to diagnosing and treating anterior cruciate ligament injuries.

The Capital Orthopaedics team operates out of three central London locations, and offers a fast and highly effective process from initial consultation to treatment, rehabilitation and return to activity.

What is an ACL tear?

Your knee is a hinge joint connecting your thigh bone with your lower leg bones. The joint is stabilised by four tough bands of connective tissue called ligaments, one of which is the anterior cruciate ligament.

The ACL is one of two thick ligaments that run through the middle of your knee joint, connecting the shinbone (fibula) to the thigh bone (femur).

If your knee is twisted forcefully, the ACL can become partially torn or completely ruptured. A rupture can also involve a piece of bone breaking away at the anchor point of the ligament – known as an avulsion fracture.

An ACL tear can also be associated with other knee injuries, including damage to the cartilage that coats the bones, torn meniscus cartilage and, over time, osteoarthritis.

What Are the Symptoms of An ACL Tear?

If you have torn your ACL, you are likely to experience:

  • A popping sensation or sound in your knee
  • Severe pain
  • Rapid swelling
  • A feeling of instability or ‘giving way’ with weight bearing
  • Reduced range of motion

What Causes an ACL tear?

The anterior cruciate ligament is most often torn during activities that involve:

  • Sudden stops and deceleration
  • Pivoting with your foot firmly planted
  • Landing awkwardly from a jump
  • Repeated stress through the knee
  • Twisting your knee

Any active person can suffer from a torn ACL, but some common sports include: basketball, tennis, skiing, rock climbing, football and gymnastics.

How can Capital Orthopaedics treat your torn ACL?

A torn ACL diagnosis is confirmed with an MRI scan and sometimes an x-ray to review any associated bone damage.

Depending on the severity of the tear, we offer our patients the following treatment options:

Conservative treatment

In some cases – such as a partial tear, if you are relatively inactive or you participate in sports that don’t stress the knees – a torn ACL can be treated without surgery.

Physiotherapy: you may need to wear a knee brace and use crutches until your knee has stabilised. Our expert physiotherapists will give you exercises that focus on strengthening the muscles and increasing mobility in your knee.

Anti-inflammatories: symptoms of pain and swelling can be minimised using anti-inflammatory medication (NSAIDs).

Injections: we offer injection therapy to stimulate healing.

ACL Surgery

Our orthopaedic surgeons may recommend anterior cruciate ligament repair if:

  • There is a complete ACL rupture and / or avulsion fracture
  • You are an athlete whose sport puts strain on the knee
  • Your knee gives way in everyday activities
  • There is other damage to other ligaments or structures in your knee

ACL repair can involve fixing the torn ligament back in place. An ACL reconstruction involves replacing the damaged ligament with a graft tendon from another part of your body or from a donor.

Most ACL operations are carried out using arthroscopic (keyhole) surgery, ensuring quicker healing and recovery times.

You will be able to weight bear immediately after the surgery, but it can be between 6-12 months before you can return to sports without risk of re-injury.

Book an Appointment with Capital Orthopaedics

Our team of highly experienced orthopaedic surgeons, in-house radiologists, physiotherapists and sports medicine professionals are dedicated to getting you back on your feet and back to optimum fitness in the quickest time possible.

Based in three central London locations, Capital Orthopaedics offers patients sophisticated diagnostics, cutting edge surgical techniques and injection therapies, and bespoke physiotherapy plans.

Other Knee Conditions We Treat

Cartilage Damage

The bones in your knee joint are coated with a slippery layer of cartilage that helps with smooth movement. Articular cartilage can get damaged as a result of wear and tear or a traumatic injury – a forceful twisting or impact. Cartilage damage can lead to instability, pain, swelling and osteoarthritis.

Knee Fractures

The bones in your knee can get fractures as a result of a direct impact, when ligaments or tendons tear out of the bone, or as a result of wear and tear.

Meniscal Tear

The two rubbery pads of cartilage in your knee joint (menisci) provide shock absorption and aid movement. They can get torn as a result of wear and tear, or an injury such as forceful twisting or an impact.


The tendons in your knee can get damaged as a result of twisting or a repetitive action such as running. It leads to pain, swelling and a loss of range of movement.

Knee Arthritis

Repeated actions, a major impact or general wear and tear over time can lead to the cartilage wearing away, exposing the bones in the joint. These rough surfaces and resulting bone spurs cause pain, stiffness and swelling in your knee.

Anterior Knee Pain

Pain in the front of your knee can be caused by a number of conditions. If you have ongoing pain and loss of range of movement, get in touch with Capital Orthopaedics today for an in-depth diagnosis and treatment plan.

Frequently Asked Questions

Book an Appointment with an Orthopaedic Specialist

The Capital Orthopaedics team is made up of highly experienced medical professionals – from Mr Simon Moyes, the renowned orthopaedic consultant surgeon, to physicians, nurses, anaesthetists and physiotherapists.
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