An anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) tear is one of the most dreaded injuries in sports and athletics. Once an ACL tear has occurred, the knee becomes unstable and weak. Complete recovery from this type of an injury could take anywhere from 6 to 12 months.
The basic function of the ACL is to stabilize your knee. Landing awkwardly from a jump, abrupt changes in direction when running, sudden deceleration, and pivoting movements can put a lot of stress on the ACL causing it to tear. The ACL can also be injured by a direct blow to the knee.
Common signs and symptoms of an anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) tear are:
- A popping sound or sensation in the inside of the knee
- Severe pain
- Inability to bear weight
- Rapid swelling of the knee
- Loss of range of motion
- Sense of instability
The swelling and pain may last a few days to weeks and then start to subside. Once the swelling has reduced you may not experience discomfort but may feel the knee ‘giving-way’ in the knee with activities of daily living.
Incidentally, young female athletes are much more prone to ACL tears as compared to men. This has been attributed to differences in anatomy, body mechanics, and, potentially, hormones.
If an ACL tear is suspected, your doctor might order an MRI scan to confirm and check for associated damage. In case of a partially torn ACL, physical therapy may suffice. For full tears, surgical reconstruction of the torn ACL ligament involves replacing the torn ligament with a graft obtained from the tendon below the kneecap or the hamstring.
Dr. Ronak Patel is a Board-Certified Orthopedic Surgeon offering a full range of care for all problems of the knee and shoulder with a special interest in complex knee disorders. Book your appointment with Dr. Patel today.