CNY Orthopedic Sports Medicine, PC: Injury: Anterior Cruciate Ligament Tear

Injuries and Conditions: Knee: Anterior Cruciate Ligament Tear

An ACL injury occurs when the anterior cruciate ligament becomes damaged through either a pull, twist, tear or other disruption of the knee. An injured ACL reduces stability in the knee and decreases support of the knee joint during athletic activity.
  • Injuries can vary in severity, ranging from a minor sprain to a complete tear or rupture of the ligament.
  • Injuries usually occur during an activity where the knee is forced side-to-side or unnaturally twisted.
  • Less serious injuries are frequently treatable with physical therapy alone, although a torn ligament will usually require surgery (a completely torn ligament cannot repair or reattach itself).
  • ACL surgery typically utilizes part of the patient's own patellar tendon to rebuild the injured ligament.

  • Signs and Symptoms
  • Considerable pain in the knee that does not go away within the first few hours after the injury.
  • Immediate (usually within 24 hours) swelling of the knee.
  • A feeling of unsteadiness and a tendency for the knee to "give-way," or an inability to bear weight on the injured leg.
  • An audible "pop" or the perception of something snapping or breaking at the moment of injury.
  • A feeling of "fullness or tightness" in the knee.

    Contact the Doctor if ...
  • The patient has the signs and symptoms of an injured ACL.
  • After treatment, the patient experiences increasing pain or weakness in the joint.
  • The patient experiences unexplained symptoms, other types of pain, or unexpected side effects of medication.

  • Common Causes of Injury
    ACL injuries usually occur during athletic activities and are common in running, jumping or during sudden twisting, turning or stopping movements. Typically, injuries are non-contact and are frequently associated with the sports of:
  • Football
  • Basketball
  • Soccer
  • Skiing

  • Expectations of Recovery
  • With proper care, most patients can expect a full recovery from an injured ACL.
  • Patients with less severe injuries may recover without surgery, using physical therapy to recondition the knee.
  • Patients with severe injuries, which require surgery, are also likely to return to previous levels of athletic activity; rehabilitation is demanding and recovery time can last longer than six months.
  • Patients are able to walk on a surgically treated ACL immediately following surgery, although knee bracing is required.


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