What Is an ACL Injury?
An ACL injury affects the anterior cruciate ligament, which is one of four main ligaments that stabilize the knee joint. The ACL runs diagonally across the center of the knee, where it connects the upper and lower leg bones (femur and tibia) and supports the joint during movement.
While ACL tears can affect individuals of all ages and activity levels, this type of injury is especially common among athletes who perform repetitive jumping, cutting, pivoting, or sidestepping maneuvers. These movements, which are often used while skiing or playing basketball, soccer, or football, can overstretch the ACL, sometimes to the point of tearing. Additionally, a direct blow to the knee can sometimes cause the ACL to rupture.
What Are the Symptoms of an ACL Injury?
As an ACL injury occurs, it may produce a sharp popping sensation in the knee, immediately followed by pain and swelling. Other symptoms include:
- Knee instability
- A feeling that the knee is about to buckle or give out
- An inability to support weight on the knee
- Reduced range of motion in the knee
An ACL injury warrants prompt medical attention. Continuing with sports or other physical activities can cause further damage, interfere with the healing process, and lead to complications, such as chronic knee instability and arthritis.
How Is an ACL Injury Treated?
A partial ACL tear can usually be treated conservatively with bracing, nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), and physical therapy. A full ACL tear can sometimes be rehabilitated without surgery, but surgical reconstruction may be suggested to address severe knee instability.
If you’re experiencing symptoms of an ACL injury, don’t wait to seek medical attention. In Lafayette, LA, Peter D. Vizzi, M.D., can evaluate your injury and explain your treatment options. As a board-certified orthopedic surgeon, Dr. Vizzi provides a comprehensive range of treatments – both conservative and surgical – for knee pain. To learn more or schedule an appointment, contact us today.