Unsure If You Have A Torn ACL?

Your ACL, or anterior cruciate ligament, is a major piece of connective tissue in your knee. Injury to the ACL can take you out of your favorite sports and workouts, and even make the game of life a little more complicated. You need rest, proper physical therapy, and possible surgery if you have a torn ACL, but you don’t want to panic if it’s just a minor strain.

Read on to learn the causes and symptoms of an ACL tear. And make an appointment at Maryland Orthopedic Specialists if you’re experiencing any of these indications of an ACL tear.

Causes of ACL injury

ACL tears often occur when you change direction suddenly or come to a grinding stop. This can happen on the football field, ski slope, or tennis court. People who participate in volleyball, soccer, gymnastics, and basketball are also at a higher risk of an ACL tear.

If you experience a direct blow to your knee as during a tackle, if you pivot when your foot is still planted, or if you land wrong from a jump, you can sustain an ACL injury.

Symptoms of ACL tears

A clear sign that you’ve torn your ACL is a loud popping sound at the time of trauma. You may hear this pop, as can people nearby.

You usually experience pain right after hearing this pop, especially at the back and outside portion of your knee. If you try to twist, bend, or move the knee, the pain intensifies.

Immediately after an ACL tear, your knee is likely to swell. Ice can help moderate swelling, but not heal the ligament tear. The swelling may resolve and pain fade a bit, but when you try to return to your sport, the knee will feel weak, unstable, and painful, and swelling may return.

When you try to get up from the injury, you may feel the knee buckle and have trouble bearing weight on the injured knee. The ACL is responsible for knee stability, so a torn ACL seriously interferes with this function. The knee feels unstable and weak.

Research also shows that women are more likely to tear their ACL compared to men. This may seem unfair, but it’s likely due to differences in anatomy — such as ligament laxity, estrogen effects, and leg alignment. Women athletes also have different muscular strength and neuromuscular control than men.

Dealing with a torn ACL

If you suspect a torn ACL and come to Maryland Orthopedic Specialists, our team will likely order an MRI and/or X-rays to confirm diagnosis. Treatment depends on the degree of your tear — whether it’s complete or partial — and your healing goals. If you’re an older, less active individual, you may be able to avoid surgery and use lifestyle changes and home remedies such as rest, bracing, and ice as therapy.

If, however, you are intent on returning to your sport, surgery may be required to restore function. Whatever your goals, the team at Maryland Orthopedic Specialists is available to guide you in the evaluation, diagnosis, and treatment of knee pain and injury.

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