When you’re constantly running and switching positions on the court or the field while playing sports, or if you are active in general, you could suffer an ACL (anterior cruciate ligament) knee injury. If this happens to you, you may hear a pop or feel a popping sensation in your knee.
Your ACL is a ligament in the middle of your knee, and it crosses in front of the PCL (posterior cruciate ligament) – and they together form an “X” right behind the kneecap, thus the name cruciate. These ligaments connect the bottom of the femur (thighbone) in your upper leg to the top of the tibia (shinbone), which is the larger bone in your lower leg. These cruciate ligaments keep the bones in place, not allowing them to buckle.
However, the ACL is in a vulnerable location if sudden, high-impact pressure is placed on the knee or the leg. Let’s talk about the causes, symptoms, and treatment of an ACL knee injury, and where you can go for an evaluation and treatment of your knee pain.
Possible Causes of an ACL Injury
You may develop an ACL injury if you suddenly change positions or slow down abruptly, such as when playing tennis or basketball. This injury is also possible when you pivot with your foot planted on the ground, or if you land awkwardly when you jump.
The severity of your ACL injury may range from mild to severe, indicating either a partial or complete tear, respectively. A partial tear can almost always heal on its own, and even a complete tear can sometimes heal on its own; however, a complete tear may require surgery so that the torn ends of the ligament heal properly.
Symptoms of a Torn ACL
Symptoms tend to happen immediately or soon after an ACL tear. At the time of the injury, you may feel a change in your knee, which feels like a popping feeling. You may also feel excruciating pain and the inability to move your knee very well, if at all.
The swelling will develop quickly as the body tries to heal the ligament. Your ability to bear weight on your knee will likely be limited, and you may feel like your knee is going to give way or is unstable.
Treatment for an ACL Tear
Before your orthopedic surgeon determines the proper treatment for you, you’ll need to undergo a thorough physical evaluation and assessment of your range of motion in your knee. You might also be asked to have an X-ray or MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) to rule out other possible causes.
If your ACL tear is mild, your surgeon will probably recommend at-home remedies to reduce pain and inflammation in your knee while it heals. The doctor may also give you a prescription medication so that the pain doesn’t interfere with sleep or cause physical stress on your body.
Physical therapy is another option. This consists of a physical therapist (PT) guiding you through exercises and stretches that gently work your knee and encourage healing. The gentle movements will help facilitate your knee’s range of motion, function, and internal blood flow.
If rest, at-home remedies, and physical therapy aren’t enough, you may need ACL surgery. This involves your surgeon replacing or repairing your torn ligament. This is a very common surgery and has a high rate of success and patient satisfaction.
Orthopedic Surgeons in Bismarck, ND
If you have a knee injury or chronic knee pain that won’t go away, come see our skilled and experienced orthopedic physicians at The Bone & Joint Center. With convenient locations in Bismarck and all across North Dakota, we are here to repair and alleviate the pain of an ACL tear, arthritis, fractures, and any other orthopedic issues.
If you have any questions or would like to schedule an appointment, call us today at (800) 424-2663 or fill out our online contact form. We look forward to helping you find relief from your knee pain!