Sports are a great way to pass the time, stay in shape, and have fun. However, sometimes injuries happen, especially knee injuries. If you’re an athlete and have suffered an injury to your anterior cruciate ligament (ACL), effective treatment is essential to getting back on the field.
At Alpha Orthopedics and Sports Medicine, our team is ready to help you deal with the pain of an ACL injury. Our skilled team of orthopedic surgeons are experts in sports medicine and ACL care, no matter how severe the injury. They offer a customized treatment plan for you specifically to get you back on your feet.
What is your ACL?
Your knee joint is made up of bones, tendons, and ligaments. These structures allow your joint to move and bend by working together. One of the main ligaments in your knee is your ACL.
Your ACL is probably the most important ligament in your knee, because it helps to give your joint stability. This is because it connects your femur, or thigh bone, to your shin bone, or tibia. When an injury occurs, your ACL falters in its ability to stabilize the knee.
An ACL injury is usually the result of a sporting event, especially when you play a sport that requires quick changes in direction. You can also suffer an injury from stopping suddenly, which puts intense pressure on your ACL. Direct trauma to your knee is another reason your ACL can become injured, along with high-impact exercises.
Knowing the symptoms of an injured ACL helps you to get treatment sooner, hopefully warding off other complications.
Symptoms of an injury
If you’ve injured your ACL, it usually means that you’ve torn the ligament. However, there are two types of tears — partial and complete. A complete tear means the ligament is completely severed, where a partial tear means the ACL is still somewhat intact. Symptoms that you may experience with either injury include:
- Severe pain
- Swelling or soreness
- Difficulty extending your knee
- Trouble walking on the injured leg
- Inability to bear weight
Along with the pain that usually begins immediately after the injury, another key sign of an ACL tear is a popping sensation that’s felt at the time of injury. This is owing to the ligament snapping or tearing from stress on your knee.
If you suspect that you’ve torn your ACL, you should be seen by our knee pain specialists as soon as possible to get a diagnosis, and a treatment plan to start you on the road to recovery.
Treatments that can help
After our doctors diagnose you with an ACL injury, they suggest a treatment plan that’s right for your activity level and lifestyle. Treatment greatly depends on the severity of the injury to your ACL and what you’re hoping to accomplish after recovery.
As an initial treatment, our doctors may recommend rest and ice to help alleviate the pain and swelling in your knee. For a minor or incomplete tear of your ACL, rest along with physical therapy and exercise modification may be all you need to get back on your feet.
However, if you’ve suffered a complete tear and are experiencing instability in your knee joint, our doctors may recommend ACL reconstruction surgery to ensure that you make a full recovery to your normal activities.
This surgery is done under anesthesia, and involves our doctors removing the injured ACL from your joint, and replacing it with a donor tendon, or a tendon from another part of your body. That tendon is then secured in place, and the surgery is complete.
After surgery, it’s imperative that you undergo physical therapy to make sure the new tendon has a good range of motion and stability. Physical therapy can also help you to rebuild strength and flexibility in your knee, allowing you to get back to your active lifestyle after recovery.
When you need treatment for an ACL tear, contact Alpha Orthopedics and Sports Medicine at one of our three convenient locations to schedule a consultation or get ahold of us online to set up an appointment today.