The Pain Behind Anterior Cruciate Ligament (ACL) Injuries

Symptoms and diagnosis for Anterior Cruciate Ligament (ACL) Injuries
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By Orthopaedic and Neurology Clinic

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What is define by an Anterior Cruciate Ligament (ACL) Injuries?

One of the most common ways people hurt their knees is by injuring their ACL (anterior cruciate ligament). This is one of the bands of tissue that holds the bones together within your knee. Therefore it helps to keep your knee stable. You can stretch or tear your ACL if you make a sudden movement or quick, sharp turn when you’re running or jumping. It’s often painful, and can make it hard to walk or put pressure on the injured leg.

Of the most common knee injuries is an anterior cruciate ligament sprain or tear.

Moreover athletes who participate in high demand sports like soccer, football, and basketball are more likely to injure their anterior cruciate ligaments.

What are some symptoms of an ACL injuries?

When you injure your anterior cruciate ligament, you might hear a “popping” noise and you may feel your knee give out from under you. Other typical symptoms include:

  • Pain with swelling. Within 24 hours, your knee will swell. If ignored, the swelling and pain may resolve on its own. However, if you attempt to return to sports, your knee will probably be unstable and you risk causing further damage to the cushioning cartilage (meniscus) of your knee.
  • Loss of full range of motion
  • Tenderness along the joint line
  • Discomfort while walking
  • A feeling of instability or “giving way” with weight bearing

“ACL injuries are commonly seen in basketball, football, and soccer players, who often jump or pivot in reaction to other athletes. Ignoring a torn ACL can potentially lead to further knee injury.”

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What types of diagnosis?

Our Specialist may ask you to lie on your back and bend your hips and/or your knees at certain angles. He’ll then place his hands on different parts of your leg and gently shift you around. If any of your bones move in a way that isn’t normal, that could be a sign that your ACL is damaged.

  • An X-ray will help determine whether there are any broken bones.
  • An MRI helps to specifically diagnose an ACL tear and look at the other ligaments and structures in your knee.
  • If there are concerns about small bone fractures, you might need a CT scan of your knee.

Possible treatment methods?

Treatment for an ACL tear will vary depending upon the patient’s individual needs. For example, the young athlete involved in agility sports will most likely require surgery to safely return to sports. However the less active individual may be able to return to a quieter lifestyle without surgery.

Nonsurgical Treatment

A torn ACL will not heal without surgery. But nonsurgical treatment may be effective for patients who are elderly or have a very low activity level. If the overall stability of the knee is intact, our doctor may recommend simple, nonsurgical options.

Bracing. Our Specialist may recommend a brace to protect your knee from instability. To further protect your knee, you may be given crutches to keep you from putting weight on your leg.

Physical therapy. As the swelling goes down, a careful rehabilitation program is started. Therefore specific exercises will restore function to your knee and strengthen the leg muscles that support it.

Surgical Treatment

Rebuilding the ligament. Most ACL tears cannot be sutured (stitched) back together. To surgically repair the ACL and restore knee stability, the ligament must be reconstructed. Our Orthopaedic Surgeon will replace your torn ligament with a tissue graft. This graft acts as a scaffolding for a new ligament to grow on.

Grafts can be obtained from several sources. Often they are taken from the patellar tendon, which runs between the kneecap and the shinbone. Hamstring tendons at the back of the thigh are a common source of grafts. Sometimes a quadriceps tendon, which runs from the kneecap into the thigh, is used. Finally, cadaver graft (allograft) can be used.

The regrowth takes time, it may be six months or more before an athlete can return to sports.

Procedure. Surgery to rebuild an anterior cruciate ligament is done with an arthroscope using small incisions. Arthroscopic surgery is less invasive. The benefits of less invasive techniques include less pain from surgery, less time spent in the hospital, and quicker recovery times.

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