ACL Tear


 

WHAT IS AN ACL TEAR?

An ACL tear is a rupture of the anterior cruciate ligament, one of the most important ligaments that stabilize the knee. While particularly common in professional athletes, this injury can affect anybody.

ACL TEAR SYMPTOMS & CAUSES

 

What does an ACL tear feel like?

Many victims of ACL tears report a loud popping sound at the moment of the injury, followed by a buckling of the knee, heavy swelling, and instability in the joint. The knee may still give out or buckle after swelling subsides. If a meniscus tear accompanies the torn ACL, patients may also feel a sharp pain inside the knee. Most patients are unable to place weight on the affected knee, though some may still be able to walk with a limited range of motion.

How do you tear your ACL?

An ACL tear is caused by a sudden change of force and direction. As a result, any activity that entails abrupt stops, frequent jumping, and sharp pivoting such as football, soccer, or skiing increases the likelihood of a tear, though even an everyday occurence such as a sharp turn off of a curb can cause a tear, as well.

 

TYPES OF ACL TEARS

Partial ACL tear

As the name suggests, a partial tear is an incomplete rupture of the ACL. Patients with partial tears usually recover more quickly than those with complete tears, and some may even retain some stability in the affected knee.

Complete ACL tear

A complete ACL tear is a total rupture of the ACL. More common than a partial tear, it completely destabilizes the affected knee. If left untreated, the injured knee could suffer from chronic instability, leading to frequent buckling.

 

WHAT TO DO AFTER AN ACL TEAR

If you think you’ve suffered an ACL tear, or still struggle with instability caused by a previous tear, you should schedule an appointment with an orthopedic specialist to receive a formal diagnosis. After reviewing your medical history and conducting a physical exam, your specialist may order an X-ray and an MRI to confirm the initial diagnosis. Based on the results, your specialist will recommend a specific course of treatment. With some combination of medication, arthroscopic ACL reconstruction, and physical therapy, most patients can expect a complete recovery.

If you are in pain from an ACL tear, there are many treatment options available that can get you back on track in no time. 

 

WHAT IS ACL SURGERY?

Since a torn ACL will not heal by itself, it is most often treated with arthroscopic surgery, a minimally invasive procedure that reconstructs the torn ligament. When performed by an experienced orthopedic surgeon, ACL surgery has an exceptionally high rate of success, making it an ideal choice for active patients looking to return to peak performance as quickly as possible. In addition, ACL surgery can prevent lasting damage to the meniscus and surrounding cartilage and prevent the development of early onset arthritis.

 

HOW IS ACL SURGERY DONE?

ACL surgery usually entails reconstruction of the torn ligament with either the patient’s tissue or tissue from another source. The surgery effectively stabilizes the affected knee, eliminates pain, prevents damage to the meniscus, and slows the progress of arthritis in some patients. As with most sports medicine surgeries, the procedure is arthroscopic, requiring only a few small incisions through which the surgeon can operate.

Throughout his career, top-rated orthopedic surgeon Dr. Leon E. Popovitz, MD has demonstrated sustained proficiency and success in ACL reconstruction, completely restoring stability and function to over a thousand patients. A firm believer in cartilage preservation, he strongly believes that maintaining the tissue with which we’re born is the key to a healthy joint. With every procedure, he carefully stabilizes the joint to prevent future damage to the cartilage within it, ensuring the long-term health of the entire knee and a smooth recovery for the patient.

 

HOW LONG DOES ACL SURGERY TAKE?

Since the procedure is minimally invasive, ACL surgery is generally quite short. In most cases, it’s completed within an hour and thirty minutes.

 

ACL SURGERY RECOVERY TIME

As with any knee surgery, ACL reconstruction will cause some pain, swelling, and a general feeling of weakness for several days after the procedure. While the repaired ACL can bear weight immediately, patients will initially need to rely on crutches for balance. After two weeks have passed, patients should be able to walk without crutches and return to work if they haven’t already done so.

Physical therapy designed to restore the knee’s range of motion can begin within a week of surgery. While most patients can begin jogging three months after surgery, they should alsorefrain from any activities that require frequent pivoting until the ligament has completely healed.

Most patients will completely recover from a torn ACL after six months, but depending on the extent of the injury and the nature of the graft, full recovery can take another several months. If the graft is taken from another tissue in the patient’s knee, the patient should be able to resume athletic activities in six months. If the graft is taken from another person. completely recovery should take about nine months, since the foreign tissue needs more time to become attached to the bone.

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