An ACL injury is one of the most common injuries in sports, and it is one of the main injuries that can occur in the knee joint. A torn ACL is most likely to occur in sports that involve planting the foot and rotating the leg at the knee joint, such as soccer, basketball, gymnastics, and football.
If the goal is to return to playing sports, ACL injury treatment usually involves surgery. However, nonsurgical ACL injury treatments are available for non-athletes who simply want to have a functional knee joint.
The anterior cruciate ligament, or ACL, is one of the four main ligaments in the knee. It runs in the center of the knee joint and connects upper leg bone (femur) to the shinbone (tibia). It is called a “cruciate” ligament because it forms a cross or “X” with the posterior cruciate ligament (PCL) in the center of the knee joint.
The main purpose of the ACL is to keep the lower leg from moving too far forward in relation to the upper leg. In other words, it helps stabilize the knee joint. Another important purpose of the ACL is to keep the lower leg from over-rotating.
Most people who suffer from a torn ACL state that they heard a “popping” noise in their knee at the time of the ACL injury. Some people also feel as if their knee gave out, either at the time of injury or soon afterwards.
Other classic symptoms of a torn ACL include severe pain, swelling (within 2 to 24 hours after the injury), tenderness, difficulty walking because of knee pain, and trouble bending the joint. During physical examination, your torn ACL doctor in New York City will also be able to move lower leg farther forward at the knee than it should normally move.
Simply put, a torn ACL is caused by moving the knee beyond what the ligament can handle. The most common activities that lead to an ACL injury (ACL tear) include:
- Quickly and forcefully changing direction (e.g. a wide receiver making a “cut” while running a pattern)
- Pivoting the leg while the foot is planted (e.g. may occur during an awkward pass in basketball)
- Landing incorrectly after a jump (e.g. an awkward dismount from a gymnastics apparatus)
- Forceful overextension of the knee joint (e.g. taking a hit to the front of the knee during a football tackle)
- Slowing down rapidly (e.g. responding to a steal by the other team in basketball)
Initial ACL injury treatment involves PRICE: protection, rest, ice, compression, and elevation. Protect the knee joint from movement and further injury, take weight off the leg, put a compressive bandage around the knee, and keep your leg elevated. This should reduce pain and swelling until you can be evaluated by an experienced torn ACL doctor in New York City, Staten Island, or Jersey City.
Most young, active people — especially athletes who want to continue playing competitively — will opt for surgical ACL treatment. Staten Island, Jersey City, and New York City have some of the top torn ACL doctors in the country.
The orthopedic surgeon will remove the damaged ligament and replace it with a tendon. This tendon may be one of your own or a donor tendon from a cadaver. This replaced tendon serves as a structure on which new tissue can grow, forming a new ACL of sorts. Surgical ACL injury treatment is followed by intensive rehab, and patients may be able to return to their chosen sport within 6 to 9 months.
Nonsurgical treatment for ACL injuries generally involves bracing and physical rehabilitation. A torn ACL will not heal or repair itself without surgery. However, patients who wish to avoid surgery and have a reasonably functional knee may seek choose nonsurgical ACL injury treatment.
If you want to learn more about ACL injury treatment or discuss your specific situation with a torn ACL doctor in Staten Island, Jersey City, or New York City, contact Regional Orthopedics today.