Activities like exercise and sports help keep your body healthy and fit. But accidents and injuries do happen, one of which is a torn anterior cruciate ligament (ACL). Since you use your knees just about all day, an ACL injury can leave you benched for quite some time. There are several treatments available, including ACL reconstruction surgery.
At Ani Medical Group, our team can determine the extent of your ACL injury and the next steps in your treatment. Our team consists of two board-certified doctors, Dr. Nasser Ani and Dr. Ian Hersh. We assess your injury to determine if surgery is the best option for you.
Your ACL: What is it?
Your knee joint is vital to many of your daily activities, including walking and running. The joint is made up of your kneecap, your shinbone, and your thighbone. Ligaments hold these bones together to form your knee joint. They’re called collateral ligaments and cruciate ligaments.
Your cruciate ligaments include both your anterior cruciate ligament and your posterior cruciate ligament. These two ligaments cross each other, forming an X shape to help stabilize your knee. They also allow your knee to move certain ways, including forward and backward.
When you suffer an ACL injury, it can lead to instability in your knee joint. Although an injury doesn’t always mean a complete tear, sprains and strains also cause problems with certain activities and mobility.
So how does this type of injury happen? Common causes of an ACL injury include:
- Sudden stopping
- Quick change in direction
- Jumping and landing incorrectly
- Slowing from a run
Direct trauma to your knee can also cause an ACL injury. Knowing what symptoms to look for helps you know when to seek treatment.
Symptoms of an ACL tear
When you think of a torn ligament, you probably think of pain as the first symptom. The first 24 hours after the injury are usually the worst.
Other symptoms you might experience include:
- Joint tenderness
- Trouble walking
- Knee swelling
- Decreased range of motion
You’ll sometimes hear a popping sound in your knee when you tear your ACL, however this isn’t always the case. With a minor injury, the symptoms may resolve on their own, but if you’ve completely torn your ACL, make an appointment with us to avoid any unnecessary complications down the road.
Do you need surgery?
The treatment we recommend is dependent on the severity of your injury and the instability of your knee. When you come in with an injury, we get an X-ray or an MRI to confirm that your ACL is torn.
From there, treatment also depends on your activity level. An ACL that is torn completely won’t heal without surgical intervention. However, if you have decent stability in your knee and you’re older or not active, trying a nonsurgical intervention may be okay. This could include bracing or physical therapy.
However, if you live an active lifestyle and your knee is unstable, we recommend surgery to repair your torn ACL. Your ACL is reconstructed during surgery by adding a tendon graft, either from you or a cadaver donor, to your knee. Over time, this graft becomes stronger and provides stability to your knee.
Rehab after surgery takes several months, and you likely won’t be able to return to your normal exercise or activities for 4-6 months. If you keep up with your physical therapy and rehab, your knee should make a full recovery.
If you have a torn ACL, call us at 732-264-8282 to make an appointment at one of our offices in Hazlet or Old Bridge, New Jersey. Or you can schedule an appointment here on the website using our convenient booking tool.