What is the Anterior Cruciate Ligament (ACL) ?
The anterior cruciate ligament, or ACL, is a band of fibrous material that works with the posterior cruciate ligament to hold the knee joint together. Located inside the knee, they attach the femur (thigh bone) to the tibia (shin bone) and criss-cross for strength and stability purposes, earning the “cruciate” portion of their name.
Approximately 250,000 people in the US experience an ACL injury during a sports injury or accident each year. If you are experiencing pain deep inside your knee, you are not alone. At Orthopedic Centers of America, we want to help you find a highly qualified orthopedic surgeon who specializes in ACL injuries. Call 1-888-549-0835 to speak to a patient representative and be matched to a physician with the experience you can trust. You will be glad you made the call!
Risks and Causes of ACL Tears
There are many scenarios that may cause the tearing of the ACL. While these injuries may be due to a direct blow to the knee, statistics show that 70% of ACL injuries are non-contact injuries due to landing on one leg, twisting while the foot is planted, sudden deceleration or pivoting. Movement that involves a sudden change in position or motion has the potential of causing an ACL injury.
Females are at risk for an ACL injury 4-6 times higher than males. This risk is due to the differences in female strength, anatomy, genetics and specific patterns of jumping and landing that are seen in females. ACL injuries happen most often to people who are 15-45 years old.
Symptoms of Torn ACL
An ACL injury may be “torn” (partial tear) or “ruptured” (complete tear), making it important that an orthopedic surgeon diagnose the severity of the injury and determine if additional injuries in the knee may have been sustained. An orthopedic specialist will be able to create a personalized plan for treatment that will set you on the right path for long-term healing. The following are symptoms of a torn ACL:
- A sudden “popping” sound
- Pain felt deep inside the knee
- Immediate swelling
- Sudden onset – you remember a specific incident that caused the knee to hurt
- Difficult to walk down stairs
- Possible instability
When to See an Orthopedic Specialist
If you are experiencing knee pain, swelling and difficulty with your everyday activities, then it is important to see an orthopedic doctor. Because the knee joints are vital to mobility, it is crucial to get an expert diagnosis concerning the severity of the injury. An orthopedic surgeon specializing in anterior cruciate ligament injuries can recommend the best treatment plan to preserve your mobility.
At Orthopedic Centers of America, we can match you with an orthopedic surgeon. We have already helped over 30,000 patients, and we can help you! Join the other patients who have found relief from pain. Call 1-888-549-0835 to speak with a patient coordinator. It’s free, and you will be glad that you called.
In many cases, ACL surgery may be necessary. However, if the injury is a partial tear (torn) rather than a complete tear (rupture), you may be a candidate for non-surgical options. At Orthopedic Centers, our physicians recommend the most effective and conservative options available. Some of these options may be:
- Rest and Ice – Placing ice on the knee to prevent excess swelling while resting the knee may provide benefit
- Non-Steroid Anti-Inflammatory Over-the-Counter Drugs – may be taken for pain and inflammation.
- Physical Therapy – exercises to strengthen muscles for stability and balance may be recommended after a period of rest.
- Cell Therapy – If the injury is a tear, the doctor may inject your own regenerative cells into the ACL as an alternative to surgery. Ask your orthopedic surgeon if you are a candidate for cell therapy.
Partial Tear of ACL – At Orthopedic Centers of America, our orthopedic surgeons utilize a minimally-invasive surgical approach to repairing partial tears of the anterior cruciate ligament that gets you back to doing what you love in a shorter amount of time than traditional surgery.
In these cases, 1-2 small incisions less than an inch in length are made in the knee. One incision provides the placement of a camera inside the knee joint allowing the surgeon to see how to perform the repair. The second incision allows long, thin surgical instruments to be placed inside the knee for the repair process.
Complete Tear of the ACL – If the ACL injury is a complete tear (ruptured), then surgery is more involved as a graft is needed to reconstruct the injured ligament. This graft may be an allograft (a donor tendon) or the surgeon may create the graft from the patient’s own tendon. Reconstructive surgery requires a longer recovery time than a partial tear, and following post-operative instructions are vital to preventing re-injury.
The time that it will take to recover fully from surgery will depend upon the severity of the ACL injury and the type of surgery required to make the repair. Physical therapy may be recommended to provide strength to the muscles supporting the knee. Exercises to increase the range of motion and secure your balance may be prescribed and may continue to be beneficial when practiced at home to maximize the outcome.
At Orthopedic Centers of America, we want to help you find the road to recovery. Call 1-888-549-0835 to speak to a patient coordinator who can match you with an orthopedic surgeon for an expert opinion. The call is free and one of the most important steps you can take!