Each year, there are over 80,000 anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) repairs performed in operating rooms across the country. ACL injuries are very common, especially in people with more active lifestyles – particularly athletes. A suspected ACL injury should be evaluated soon after the incident. Treatment for an ACL injury will depend on the severity of the injury.
What is the ACL?
The ACL is a major ligament in the knee that provides stability to the joint. The ACL, as a cruciate ligament, is found in the knee joint. The anterior cruciate ligament forms an X with the posterior cruciate ligament, and together, they allow the back and forth motion of the knee. The ACL also prevents the tibia from sliding out of the femur. It is why the biggest indicator of a severe ACL injury is instability.
Signs and Symptoms of an ACL Injury
An ACL injury produces symptoms that are hard to ignore. Some symptoms appear immediately after the incident, while some may take days to develop. ACL injury symptoms may worsen with time.
ACL injuries are classified by grades: a grade I injury is mild with the ACL stretched and the knee able to bear weight. A grade II injury is moderate, with a partially torn ACL and knee instability present. A grade III injury is severe, with a completely torn ACL and the knee being unstable.
Signs and symptoms include:
● A Loud Popping Sound
An ACL injury is usually preceded by a loud popping sound. Moving the knee also creates a popping sensation.
● Severe Pain
Pain from an ACL tear is severe and sharp, felt behind and the outer part of the knee, and can be connected to a specific incident. It will be very painful to move, bend, or straighten the affected knee, and worse when trying to walk or climb stairs.
Immediate swelling after an injury to the ACL is common. Delayed onset is also possible and the knee may swell for up to a week after the incident. The swelling may be worse depending on the severity of the injury.
An ACL injury results in knee instability. It feels like the knee is giving out when you try to put weight on it. As a result, an ACL injury may cause you to walk with a limp.
● Bruising, Warmth, and Tenderness
The affected knee may feel warm and tender to the touch due to internal bleeding in the joint. Bruising may also be present as a result of the trauma.
Without proper treatment, an ACL injury could lead to chronic problems of the knee. Further, an ACL injury usually co-occurs with other ligament injuries. For example, the medial collateral ligament (MCL) is also frequently damaged along with the ACL.
An ACL injury is usually diagnosed using an X-ray or MRI. An orthopedic surgeon is most qualified to treat a torn ACL, usually with surgical intervention or ACL ligament reconstruction surgery.
Knee Surgeon for ACL Repair in North Dakota
The Bone & Joint Center has three orthopedic surgeons who are experts in knee ligament constructions: Dr. Brian Dahl, Dr. Joe Carlson, and Dr. Timothy Bopp. As part of our comprehensive treatment program, we offer physical therapy and occupational therapy services to our patients. To make an appointment with an orthopedic surgeon for ACL injury treatment, call (701) 946-7400 / (866) 900-8650 or use our online form.