An Overview of Anterior Cruciate Ligament Tears (ACL Tears)
Knee injuries affect countless residents of the Dallas, Frisco and Fort Worth, Texas area. One of the most common injuries associated with the knee joint is an anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) tear. Athletes and active individuals who participate in sports that involve sudden stops and changes in direction, such as football, basketball and soccer, are at an elevated risk of an ACL tear. If the ACL becomes injured, it is important it is treated as soon as possible in order to return full stability and function to the knee joint. The knee specialists at Texas Sports Medicine specialize in treating ACL tears and returning their patients back to the game in a timely manner.
What is an Anterior Cruciate Ligament Tear?
The anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) is one of the main ligaments in the knee joint. The ACL is considered the main stabilizing ligament and is responsible for preventing the knee form shifting. Running from the front (anterior) aspect of the tibia to the back of the femur, the ACL is prone to injury in active individuals involved in cutting and pivoting activities.
An ACL tear is typically caused from an unnatural twisting or pivoting motion, as well as from a direct blow to the knee joint. A tear occurs when the ligament is stretched beyond its normal range of motion and the tibia slides out from under the femur. Partial ACL tears are uncommon. The majority of ACL tears are classified as either near complete or complete tears.
It is reported about half of all anterior cruciate ligament tears involve damage to other structures within the knee such as other ligaments, the menisci and cartilage.
Athletes involved in high demand sports are at an elevated risk since their knees are pushed to the limit during various movements. High risk athletes include those who participate in football, basketball, soccer, gymnastics, tennis and skiing. It is important to note ACL tears are reported in more women than men.
ACL Tear Symptoms
- A ‘popping’ sound at the time of injury
- A sensation the knee will give out
- Decreased range of motion
- Discomfort while walking
ACL Tear Treatment
An ACL tear will not heal without surgical reconstruction. Nonoperative treatment is usually reserved for elderly adults or those with a very low activity level.
- Stop all activities that place additional stress on the affected knee
- Bracing and crutches
- A brace will help protect the knee from instability and crutches will help eliminate weight loads on the knee
- Physical therapy
- Specific exercises to restore function and strengthen the supporting leg muscles
- ACL reconstruction
- Surgical technique: This procedure involves removing the damaged ACL and replacing the ligament with a graft in order to restore full function and stability. The knee specialists at Texas Sports Medicine will explain the pros and cons of each graft option in great detail at a patient’s consultation.
- Weight bearing status will be determined by your physician
- Return to work or school in 5-10 days
- Therapy begins immediately after surgery
- Light jogging begins around 4 months
- Return to play is typically 9 months
To learn more about anterior cruciate ligament tears, or to discuss ACL tear treatment options with a knee specialist in the Dallas, Frisco and Fort Worth, Texas area, please contact the office of Texas Sports Medicine.