ACL Tear Symptoms, Treatment, and Recovery
On a daily basis, our ligaments work hard to support our knees as we exercise, play sports, and more. The ligaments in our knees can be sprained or torn under specific circumstances. The anterior cruciate ligament, which helps give the knee stability during rotation, is a particularly important one.
Our highly trained experts at JIS Orthopedics have many years of experience diagnosing, treating, and helping those with ACL injuries recover. If you suspect you have torn your ACL, schedule an appointment today at one of our convenient locations in New Albany and St. Clairsville, OH.
What Is an ACL Tear?
ACL tears are among the most common knee injuries. An ACL injury occurs when the anterior cruciate ligament is stretched beyond its normal range of motion or torn completely. Within your knee, you have 4 major ligaments, and they are as follows:
1 . Anterior cruciate ligament (ACL)
2 . Posterior cruciate ligament (PCL)
3 . Medial collateral ligament (MCL)
4 . Lateral collateral ligament (LCL)
Your ACL connects your thigh bone (femur) to your shin bone (tibia). The primary function of your ACL is to stop forward movement and rotation of the shin bone on the thigh bone.
Types of ACL Tears
There are three different grades of ACL tears, and your specialist will grade your injury based on its severity. The grades are as follows:
- Grade 1 sprains occur when there has been some stretching or minimal microscopic tearing of the ligament. The ligament will continue to stabilize your knee joint.
- Grade 2 sprains are tears that are more moderate in nature. Your ligament has been stretched and loosened, resulting in some instability.
- Grade 3 is a full/complete ACL tear, which is the most severe. Your ligament will only be partially intact or completely torn, sometimes divided into two pieces. Grade 3 tears leave no stability within your knee joint.
What Causes an ACL Tear?
There are several circumstances that can cause you to tear your ACL, and these can include:
- A sudden change in direction
- A sudden stop/slowing down while running
- Pivoting while your foot is still firmly planted
- Landing awkwardly from a jump
- High impact or a direct blow to your knee
An ACL tear is a common injury among athletes, particularly those who participate in sports that involve running, jumping, and rapid direction changes, such as in basketball, soccer, skiing, football, and gymnastics.
Additionally, even if you are not participating in sports, you could simply be running and twist/move just slightly the wrong way and injure yourself.
ACL Tear Symptoms
If you have torn your ACL, you may experience the following symptoms:
- Difficulty walking
- Knee instability
- Your knee may feel like it’s sliding out of place/locking
- A popping sound at the time of injury
- Reduced range of motion
If you are experiencing any of these symptoms, you should seek the assistance of a medical specialist. Without receiving the proper treatment for an ACL injury, you could cause further damage to your knee.
How Are ACL Tears Diagnosed?
An ACL injury is diagnosed by means of a physical evaluation and a thorough review of your medical history. Your specialist may order an X-ray or MRI to confirm the diagnosis of your injury and to see if there is any additional structural damage.
Treatment Options For a Torn ACL
At JIS Orthopedics, we provide nonsurgical and surgical treatment options to repair injured ligaments. The type of treatment you receive will depend on the severity of your injury, pain, and the lifestyle you wish to maintain.
Nonsurgical Treatments for ACL Injuries
Some nonsurgical treatments for an ACL injury may include:
- Wearing a knee brace to keep your knee joint stable.
- Physical therapy to assist with regaining the functionality of your knee joint and strengthening the leg muscles that support it.
Surgical treatments for an ACL injury:
If your injury does not respond to nonsurgical treatment or if you would like to return to your normal high activity level, your specialist may recommend knee surgery.
It is very likely your orthopedic specialist will recommend physical therapy after your surgery is complete. Without physical therapy, you may struggle to regain the full functionality of your knee. This may cause you to over or under-compensate, which could create future complications with your knees, hips, and other areas of your body.
Another benefit of physical therapy is that it can help prevent the same injury from occurring again.
At JIS Orthopedics, we specialize in ACL injuries. If you are unsure if you have one, visit us and we’ll help identify your injury and recommend the best course of treatment. We will work with you to help you recover and return to your normal activities as soon as possible!
Schedule an appointment at our New Albany or St. Clairsville office today by calling (866) 604-8766 or booking online and see how we can help you return to a life without limits!