Almost everyone knows someone who has torn their ACL and had to have surgery to repair it. An ACL tear is a serious, painful and common knee injury.
There are four main ligaments that make up the knee joint. The posterior cruciate ligament (PCL) and the anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) help to stabilize the tibia (shin bone) so it doesn’t move forward or backward in relation to the femur (thigh bone). The medial collateral ligament (MCL) and the lateral collateral ligament (LCL) are located on the inside and outside of the knee joint, respectively, and their purpose is to control excessive motion by limiting joint mobility in the knee.
An ACL tear is a common knee injury, often requiring surgery to repair. The early symptoms of an ACL tear can include a “pop” or cracking sounds at the time of injury, swelling and excessive pain when using the injured leg.
An ACL injury can occur for a number of reasons. Most injuries happen in a sports related setting but can happen almost anytime. The most common causes are hyperextension of the knee joint where the lower leg is forced excessively forward in relation to the upper leg and internal rotation past the normal range of motion of the knee joint.
If your doctor suspects that you have an ACL tear you will likely be sent for an MRI to determine the extent of the injury and the location of the tear. Some people can live and function normally with a torn ACL, but the knee will feel “unstable” and may give out when using the affected leg. Anyone wanting to stay physically active will most likely want to deal with the ACL tear sooner rather than later. Also, unrepaired ACL tears often lead to further knee problems in the future.
Treatment of an ACL tear may vary. Depending on the severity of the injury, treatment can be anything from crutches to physiotherapy to surgery, or all of the above. Your doctor will help determine the best course of treatment for your injury.
ACL tears are unfortunately quite common, but this also means that ACL surgical repairs are also common. Recovery from an ACL repair can be reasonably fast. Remember leaving an injury untreated is rarely recommended. If you suspect you have torn your ACL make sure you speak to your doctor as soon as possible.
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