ACL Injuries: Warning Signs and Treatment

March 8, 2018

Chances are, you’ve heard about ACL (anterior cruciate ligament) injuries, or perhaps you know someone who has torn theirs. This particular knee injury is one of the most serious types of injuries that can occur during contact sports like football and basketball, or any activity that involves abrupt movements like stopping or pivoting.

To make sure you or your child is prepared in the event of an ACL tear, we’re here to let you know what symptoms to look out for and how to treat this kind of injury.

What is the ACL?

The ACL is a ligament located deep within the knee joint, connecting to the tibia and femur, and helps to keep the knee stable while rotating. It also helps to keep the shinbone locked in place, providing stability while it rotates and preventing it from moving away from the thighbone and the knee.

ACL Tear Symptoms

When the ACL is torn, pain will occur when the tear happens. Some may hear the shinbone popping out and back into place. Those who experience an ACL tear might be unable to bear weight on their affected leg or feel a sense of instability. Some will experience a swelling within the knee joint, which can be very intense.

ACL Tear Treatment

For any kind of knee injury, stop all activity immediately to prevent further injury. Apply ice to the knee in a plastic bag or cloth and keep it there for approximately 20 minutes. To reduce the swelling, try elevating the knee and keeping weight off of it.

Most ACL tears require surgery. Surgery can vary depending on the age and gender of the patient. For children who are still growing, surgeons are especially careful not to touch the growth plates, which are developing tissue that grow on the ends of bones like the tibia and femur, which is connected to the ACL.

ACL Tear Recovery 

Recovering from this kind of injury can be a long road, as rehab therapy is required to help restore the knee’s range of motion. Some patients will need a leg brace. Some may also need to continue keeping the knee elevated to reduce swelling.

This article was adapted from Kids Health. Read the full article here.

If you have any questions about ACL injuries, please contact Campbell Clinic to meet with a physician.


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