#SportsMedicineMonday: ACL Injuries
The knee is one of the body’s most complex joints. Unfortunately, it’s also one of the most likely body parts to be injured during high-intensity activity. Sprains or tears to the anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) are particularly common and require dedicated treatment or surgery in order to fully recover. Let’s take a deeper look at ACL’s anatomy, as well as injury causes and treatment options.
Your knee is the union of three major bones: your tibia (shinbone), your femur (thighbone) and your patella (kneecap). These bones are connected by collateral ligaments and cruciate ligaments, strong fibrous tissues that provide stability for the entire knee. Collateral ligaments coordinate the sideways motion of the knee, while cruciate ligaments control its back and forth motion. The ACL is in the middle of the knee and is responsible for its rotational stability.
ACL injuries are common in high-intensity activities, particularly those involving sudden bursts of running, such as soccer, football and basketball. Common ACL injury causes include:
- Sudden change in direction while running
- Sudden stop while running
- Sudden force to the knee or collision
- Improper landing after jumping
An ACL tear is typically a non-contact injury and recognized by a loud “pop” or loss of feeling in the knee following one of the actions listed above. Patients may feel their knees give out from under them and not be able to stand correctly. Additional ACL injury symptoms include:
- Pain and swelling in the knee
- Loss of or limited mobility in the knee
- Instability in the knee
- Deep pain in knee
Evaluation of an ACL injury may include x-rays, MRI, and in-office evaluation. This video offers a detailed look at how Dr. Melander will examine a torn ACL and perform an allograft graft surgery to replace the torn tissue.
Depending on the severity of the injury, a number of surgical and non-surgical treatment options are available. Dr. Melander evaluates ACL injuries on a case by case basis in order to determine the best possible recovery options.
If the ACL is not torn, but sprained, non-surgical treatments may help the patient return to his or her normal activity level. A knee brace may be prescribed in order to protect the knee from further damage. As the swelling decreases, a physical therapy routine will be established to help restore the knee’s mobility.
A completely torn ACL will likely require full surgery in order for the knee to fully recover, as these tissues don’t heal on their own. To repair the ACL, Dr. Melander will typically replace the torn ACL with tissue from another part of the leg, such as the patella, hamstring, or quadriceps tendon.
For a complete overview of ACL treatment options, visit our patient education page.
Schedule a Consultation
If you’re an athlete who recently suffered a knee injury and are unsure of its severity, schedule a consultation with Dr. Melander right away. Our team of sports medicine and orthopaedic surgery experts will develop a personalized treatment plan that helps you get back in the game as quickly as possible.