ACL injuries are common in many sports, but they are especially common in soccer. If you suffer an ACL tear, do you need surgery? In this Ask Dr. Geier video, I discuss whether it’s possible to play soccer with a torn ACL and why you might consider surgery.

Chelsea asks:
I am 16, and I love soccer so much. I tore my ACL 6 weeks ago. I’m just wondering if I can play. I think I need surgery.

What does the ACL do?

The anterior cruciate ligament, or ACL, is a thick, strong ligament inside your knee that stabilizes the knee when you land from a jump or change directions. It keeps the tibia (shin bone) from shifting out from under the femur (thigh bone).

Symptoms of an ACL injury

When you tear the ACL, you will probably have a lot of pain and swelling. These symptoms usually go away in a few weeks. Stiffness of the knee also improves. What can remain is a lack of knee stability.

Why it's hard to play soccer with a torn ACL

Challenges with trying to play soccer with a torn ACL

As I discuss in this video, with an unstable knee from a torn ACL, your knee might buckle or give way when you land from a jump or plant your foot to change directions. Not only does that lack of stability make it difficult to do what you need to do on the field, but it can lead to more damage in your knee, like a meniscus tear or articular cartilage damage.

Also read:
Does a partial ACL tear need surgery?
When can I run after ACL surgery?

Please remember, while I appreciate your questions, I cannot and will not offer specific medical advice by email, on my website, on my podcast, or in social media. My responses are meant to provide general medical information and education. Please consult your physician or health care provider for your specific medical concerns.

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