An anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) tear in the knee often occurs during physical activity, so it’s a frequent cause of injury for athletes. Drew Stein, MD, PLLC, is an experienced orthopedic surgeon and sports injury specialist who provides effective treatments for ACL tears, including regenerative medicine techniques and advanced surgical procedures, at his practice in the Midtown West area of New York City. Call today if you have knee pain or book an appointment using the online tool.
An ACL tear is an injury to the anterior cruciate ligament, which is one of four ligaments that join the bones in your knee together and help stabilize the joint.
There are two collateral ligaments, one on either side of the knee, and the cruciate ligaments that cross over inside the joint. Cruciate ligaments enable you to move your knee backward and forward.
An ACL tear is a Grade 3 injury, which means the ligament has torn in half, but you can also suffer less severe sprains where the ACL stretches but doesn’t tear.
ACL tears are typically the result of a sports injury or occur during exercise because of:
At the moment when the ACL tears, you might hear a pop and feel the stability go from your knee, possibly causing you to collapse. After the injury, your knee swells and gets more painful, and you may have trouble walking for a day or two.
One problem that can happen with an ACL tear is that these acute symptoms start to resolve after a few days, making you believe everything is ok. Unfortunately, ACL tears can’t heal themselves, and if you return to exercising and playing, the damage could get worse.
For older people who have a quiet, non sporting lifestyle, using a brace and undergoing a program of physical therapy can be sufficient to restore enough function for their needs.
However, if you wish to play sports or be physically active and need the full function in your knee, then surgery is your best option. ACL surgery involves reconstructing the ligament using a graft because it’s not possible to sew the ends of the ligament together.
Following the surgery, you need to take regular pain medication as prescribed by Dr. Stein, and use ice packs to reduce swelling. The dressing stays on for five days, and you must keep it dry during that time. Dr. Stein gives you a knee brace and crutches to enable you to move around without putting weight on your knee.
You need to keep the brace on for two weeks and follow the exercise program Dr. Stein gives you to build strength in your knee and keep it flexible. It takes about six months for the ACL to heal after surgery, but if you maintain your rehabilitation program, you should regain full use of your knee.
For more information, call Drew Stein, MD, PLLC, today or book an appointment online.