Damage to the ACL is one of the most common knee injuries seen by James M. Lee, Jr, MD, in Orange, New Jersey. It's a risk that athletes in high-demand sports often face, but it can affect anyone who’s active. This injury requires a delicate approach and skilled hand to fix because the knee is a complex joint. An ACL injury will sideline most people without proper treatment.
ACL stands for anterior cruciate ligament. The knee consists of three bones that form a hinge joint, the:
The femur is the thigh bone. Ligaments are tough, fibrous supportive tissues that connect the bones, holding the joint together. They work to stabilize the leg, so it can bend and maintain some flexibility without the knee coming apart. The ACL sits diagonally down the middle of the knee, under the patella, or kneecap. This ligament's job is to keep the tibia from pulling in front of the femur and to stabilize the knee, preventing it from rotating.
Most of these types of injuries relate to sports or exercise. Often, the tear is due to what athletes call cutting, where you suddenly slow down and then change direction. An ACL tear might be caused by pivoting from the knee instead of the foot, as a basketball player might do when trying to pass the ball and changing direction quickly.
Other possible causes of ACL tears include:
The ACL may tear partially or completely sever. For some people, the injury is just overextension that weakens the tissue. Dr. Lee examines the knee and determines the extent of the damage to the ACL.
They vary based on the extent of the injury, but some common complaints include:
Any knee injury requires medical attention to prevent further damage. An ACL tear may be a secondary injury caused by damage to another part of the knee, as well. There are many components to the joint, so any knee pain is an indicator that you need to make an appointment with Dr. Lee.
Generally, a ligament tear may need reconstructive surgery. Dr. Lee will assess the damage done to the joint and create a comprehensive care plan that will include: