An injury to the anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) most commonly occurs in high-demand sports like football, soccer, and basketball that involve sudden stops, jumping, or changes in direction. Depending on the severity of the ACL injury, as well as your desired level of activity, surgery may be necessary to restore the full function of the knee.
What causes ACL injury?
An injury to the anterior cruciate ligament may result from either direct contact to the knee or non-contact planting and pivoting awkwardly while bending the knee.
How do you know you have an ACL injury?
You might hear or feel a “pop” in the knee when you injure your ACL, and your knee may “give out.” Typical symptoms of an ACL injury include:
- Pain, often severe
- Rapid swelling
- Range of motion reduction and knee tightness
- Instability with weight bearing
How does OSI fix an ACL injry?
OSI board-certified knee specialists examine all structures of the knee joint to determine ACL damage, and to what extent that damage is. You can expect your OSI knee expert to do one or more of the following to determine the appropriate course of action for your ACl injury:
- Physical exam: Your doctor will begin with a consultation to understand your symptoms and medical history, followed by a full physical examination. Many injuries to the ACL can be diagnosed at this stage.
- Imaging: An X-ray will determine if there is any type of fracture associated with the ACL tear.
For those with a lower activity level, nonsurgical treatments may prove beneficial, but unfortunately, a torn ACL does not heal without surgery, so you and your OSI knee specialist will discuss your desired outcomes when determining the course of action to be taken. Conservative treatment approaches include:
- Bracing to stabilize the knee joint
- Physical therapy to restore function
Due to a limited blood supply, the ACL can’t be repaired or stitched together. But a surgical treatment (arthroscopy) reconstructs the ligament using a graft that is secured to the thigh and lower leg bones. This heals to then become the anterior cruciate ligament. Any other injuries to the knee joint are treated arthroscopically at the same time. You can expect a minimum of 6 months before returning to demanding physical activity, including athletes anxious to resume playing sports. Your OSI orthopedic surgeon may also prescribe a knee brace for athletic activity to bolster the stability of the reconstructed ACL.