ACL Tears Special Tests

ACL Tears Special Tests


I think I tore my ACL and my athletic trainer did some weird movements to my knee on the field, what were they doing?



There is a cluster of special tests that are done by athletic trainers, physical therapists, and physicians to determine different injuries or pathologies within the knee. These special tests are meant to determine what type of tissue is involved with the injury (bone, tendon, ligament, or meniscus) and where the injury occurred (medial, lateral, inside of the joint, or outside of the joint). For ACL tears specifically, there are two main tests that you may witness somebody perform on you if you’ve had an ACL tear. The first is call Anterior Drawer and here is how it’s performed:

  1. Bend the injured knee into flexion (variable amount dependent on pain or muscle guarding/spasms)
  2. Place pressure onto the foot so that the distal (far) leg is immobilized
  3. With both hands, pull on the shin bone to try and create translation (movement) towards you
  4. Compare this movement to that of the other leg
  5. If the injured leg moves more/has more laxity then an ACL tear my have occurred

The second test for ACL tears is called the Lachman’s test and here is how it is performed:

  1. Bend the knee into about 20-30 degrees of flexion
  2. Place one hand around the distal femur (far the bone)
  3. Place the other hand on the proximal tibia (close shin bone)
  4. While stabilizing your top hand, pull the hand that is on the tibia towards you
  5. Compare this movement to the other leg
  6. If the injured leg moves more/has more laxity then an ACL tear may have occurred
  7. If you don’t feel an end feel of the ACL (you can keep pulling and don’t feel anything restricting your movement) then an ACL tear may have occurred

While you can’t perform these tests on yourself, they are often performed by healthcare professionals and you have probably seen them done on television multiple times without even realizing it!


If you have had an ACL tear, check out our rehab posts for our rehab protocol!


Featured Image By: MediSavvy

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