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Think Your ACL is Torn? Take These Steps Immediately

Think Your ACL is Torn? Take These Steps Immediately

The anterior cruciate ligament, or ACL, is a crucial component in the knee joint. Along with the posterior cruciate ligament, or PCL, the ACL provides stability to the knee and allows it to move without rotating too much.

An ACL tear is a prevalent injury among young athletes, but it can happen to anyone. Specific movements put too much force on the ligament, causing it to stretch or tear, which may be painful.

Taking care of an ACL injury is essential in preventing injuries and returning to the activities you love. At Alpha Orthopedics & Sports Medicine, our team specializes in orthopedic injuries like ACL tears.

Dr. Brian Snow and Dr. Jon Thompson carefully evaluate the injury and formulate a plan specifically for your needs to help you get back on your feet as soon as possible.

Symptoms of an ACL tear

An ACL tear is an unfortunate injury that’s prevalent in athletes. An ACL injury has varying degrees of severity, ranging from grade one to grade three. A grade one injury is the least severe, while a grade three injury is a complete tear of the ACL.

The symptoms you have after an ACL tear vary based on the severity of the tear and your personal pain tolerance. Knowing the signs of an ACL tear before an injury helps determine when to seek treatment. Common symptoms of an ACL injury include:

These symptoms usually follow an injury where your knee extends or twists past its standard limit, which strains the ligament. Mild ACL tears may not bother you immediately, whereas severe tears almost always exhibit symptoms.

The first steps after an ACL injury

If you suspect an ACL injury or tear, it's essential to take the proper steps to avoid further injury to the knee joint — but is surgery the first step with a torn ACL? The good news is that not every ACL tear requires surgery.

After an ACL injury, you first need to get off your feet and the field or court if you’re an athlete. Sit and evaluate how your knee feels while you're off it. The best trick is the RICE method if pain and swelling are present.

RICE stands for rest, ice, compression, and elevation. Stay off the injured knee until our team can see and evaluate the injury. Use ice on and off throughout the day to reduce swelling and pain.

You can use a brace or elastic bandage to wrap the knee, which also reduces swelling in the joint. Elevate the knee while sitting to prevent fluid build-up and inflammation after the injury.

The next step is making an appointment with Dr. Thompson or Dr. Snow to evaluate your knee.

What does ACL treatment entail?

Dr. Snow and Dr. Thompson will discuss your symptoms and evaluate the affected knee at your appointment. They may also order imaging studies, such as an MRI or CT scan, to see inside the knee joint and determine the best treatment route.

We suggest conservative measures such as physical therapy, joint injections, and wearing a brace or using crutches for mild to moderate injuries. Mild tears can improve with these treatments, but severe ones won't.

If you have a severe ACL tear and are active, we may suggest surgical repair of the ligament. We can use a donor or one of your other ligaments to replace the torn ACL.

ACL reconstruction surgery is very successful but requires significant downtime and strict adherence to recovery guidelines. However, most people heal well and can return to normal activities within a year.

Call one of our offices in Sherman, Prosper, and McKinney, Texas, today to schedule an appointment for an ACL tear or request a consultation on the website.

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