The Truth About ACL Tears

Two important truths about ACL injuries are that they are one of the most common knee injuries and they don’t always require surgery. But if you’re an active adult who plans to continue participating in sports, we usually recommend surgery.

ACL stands for anterior cruciate ligament, which is one of four main ligaments that connect your thigh bone, also called femur, to your shin bone, or tibia. 

The ACL is the one that’s most likely to get injured because it’s the one in the front of the knee, responsible for aligning the tibia and the femur, and the ACL doesn’t have adequate muscle support to protect it. 

At Orange Orthopaedic Associates, board-certified and fellowship-trained orthopedic surgeon James M. Lee Jr., MD, can recommend the best course of treatment for your knee injury to help you get back to an active lifestyle as soon as possible.

Why do ACL tears happen?

ACL tears are common among athletes, especially those who play sports that require frequent stops and starts and changing directions, such as basketball, soccer, and tennis.

When you change direction suddenly, jump and land awkwardly, or experience a trauma to your knee, you put pressure on the ligament. It can partially tear or fully tear. You’ll recognize that you’ve injured your ACL when you hear a pop or feel the sensation of a rip. 

Symptoms that follow include severe pain, swelling, and a feeling of instability. 

The majority of ACL injuries don’t involve a trauma or blow to the knee. Almost three-quarters of all ACL injuries occur without an impact.

Who is at risk for an ACL tear?

Most ACL injuries are sports injuries. So, as you might deduce, athletes are at a higher risk than non-athletes, although anyone can twist their knee and tear their ACL. Women are more prone to ACL injuries, as are people who have experienced one before. 

You increase your risk of a knee injury by playing a sport without proper footwear or sports equipment. Not being in shape also increases your risk of injury when playing sports.

How do I know if I need surgery?

Depending on how severe your injury is, we may recommend noninvasive treatment options such as physical therapy, strength training, and wearing a knee brace.

Unfortunately, about half of all ACL injuries are accompanied by another knee injury such as a meniscus tear or additional ligament damage. When you’ve injured more than just your ACL, surgery is usually recommended. 

And if you’re an avid athlete or experience mobility issues after noninvasive remedies, ACL reconstruction surgery is your best treatment option.  

If you think you may have injured your ACL or you want information on how to best prevent ACL injuries, call us at Orange Orthopaedic Associates for an appointment Dr. Lee. For your convenience, you can also make an appointment online through this website.

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