If you’ve experienced an ACL injury or suffer from serious leg pain, please Schedule an appointment with one of our orthopedic specialists as soon as possible.
What Are ACL Injuries?
ACL injuries consist of a tear or sprain in the anterior cruciate ligament, one of the ligaments that connect the thigh bone to the shinbone and strengthen the knee. Sports that involve quick stops, sudden pivots, and jumping (soccer, basketball, football, skiing) usually see many ACL injuries among participants.
Most people hear or feel a loud “pop” sensation in the knee when an ACL injury first happens. The knee will swell, lose stability and cause severe pain when bearing weight.
Depending on the intensity of the injury, ACL treatment can include regaining strength and stability through rehabilitation exercises or undergoing surgery to replace the torn ligament. Proper training procedures when participating in active sports will help reduce the risk of suffering an ACL injury.
Indications Of ACL Injuries
The symptoms of an ACL injury can include:
- Sudden Pain: A popping sound or sensation may be experienced at the time of injury, followed by immediate pain in the knee.
- Swelling: The knee joint often swells rapidly, usually within a few hours after the injury.
- Instability: The knee may feel unstable or give way when attempting to bear weight or change direction. There may be a sense of the knee buckling or feeling loose.
- Limited Range of Motion: Difficulty fully straightening or bending the knee may be experienced due to pain or mechanical blockage caused by the injury.
- Difficulty Walking: Walking may be challenging, particularly if the knee feels unstable or painful.
If you suspect an ACL injury, it is important to seek medical evaluation for an accurate diagnosis. A healthcare professional, typically an orthopedic specialist, will perform a physical examination of the knee, evaluate your symptoms, and may order imaging tests like an MRI to confirm the diagnosis and assess the severity of the injury.
Treatments For ACL Injuries
Treatment options for ACL injuries depend on several factors, including the severity of the injury, the individual’s activity level, and their overall health goals. Treatment may include:
- Non-Surgical Management: In some cases, non-surgical treatment may be recommended for individuals with less active lifestyles or those who have partial tears. This may involve physical therapy, bracing, and activity modification to help stabilize the knee and regain strength.
- Surgical Reconstruction: For individuals who desire to return to activities that involve cutting, pivoting, or jumping, or for those with complete tears, surgical reconstruction of the ACL is often recommended. This procedure involves replacing the torn ACL with a graft, typically using a portion of the patient’s own tendon or a donor’s tendon.
Following surgical intervention or non-surgical treatment, rehabilitation plays a crucial role in the recovery process. Physical therapy is typically prescribed to restore strength, flexibility, balance, and range of motion in the knee. The rehabilitation process is usually gradual and tailored to the individual’s specific needs and goals.