It’s the diagnosis that every athlete dreads, and the pain that they hope they never have to experience: a torn ACL. Often accompanied by a popping sound and sudden, searing pain, tearing your ACL is so common and occurs in so many types of sports that someone you know has probably experienced this injury.

Tearing your anterior cruciate ligament, or ACL, can be very painful and can limit your leg mobility, at least until you get treatment. Sports medicine surgeons frequently treat torn ACLs and can help you find relief, even if that means having to reconstruct your ACL.

This vital ligament in your knee helps stabilize the joint and connects the bones of your upper and lower leg together. Depending on the extent of your tear, you may have to have the joint reconstructed. Adult reconstructive surgeons can help adult athletes return to their former activities, before their injury.

It’s important to know how to prevent this injury. As common and treatable as it is, it’s still a painful injury. Here are the most common causes of torn ACLs, information that you can use to prevent injuring your own.

Sudden Leg Movements

Suddenly slowing down and changing directions, known as “cutting”, is a movement that very commonly leads to ACL tears. While the ligament is flexible, suddenly slowing down while running or jogging and then directing your leg in a different direction can overextend the ligament, or even put excessive pressure on it. Pivoting one direction while your foot is planted, or trying to stop suddenly can also stress the ligament.

Exercise without Training

An ACL tear can be difficult to prevent because many sports, from tennis to football, depend on agile movements such as these. You may want to ask your coach, a trainer, or even sports medicine surgeons in Joplin, Missouri, proper leg movement techniques. Practicing good technique can help you perform cutting movements and other agility exercises without overly engaging your ACL.

Direct Hits to the Knee

People who play contact sports or balance-based activities like dancing and gymnastics can injure their ACL by hitting the knee. Direct impact to the knee from a tackle, fall, or crash can tear your ACL. A good way to prevent ACL tears is to wear appropriate leg protection, like pads, and avoiding playing sports on hard, slippery surfaces, like artificial turf.

If you tear your ACL, visit sports medicine surgeons in Joplin, Missouri, for immediate treatment and help recovering safely.