Anterior Cruciate Ligament (ACL) Tear/Reconstruction
The Anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) connects the shinbone to the thighbone. It is one of the primary ligaments that stabilizes the knee joint. More than 200,000 ACL injuries occur annually in the U.S., and a majority of patients select surgical reconstruction. ACL tears may be partial or complete, and cause the knee to give way during physical activity.
Females are at increased risk of ACL injury, but the reason is not clear. However, studies show that proper training to strengthen leg and hip muscles, and learning how to jump and land correctly can help reduce the risk of ACL injuries in female athletes.
What causes an ACL Injury?
The ACL is one of the most commonly injured knee ligaments caused by sports and fitness activities. High-risk sports like basketball, football, skiing and soccer increase the risk of ACL damage. A direct blow to the knee in an auto accident can damage the ACL.
The majority of ACL injuries occur without direct contact. Cutting, pivoting or sidestepping, and awkward landings are associated with ACL damage. About 50% of ACL injuries occur with a torn meniscus (the cartilage pad between the thighbone and the shinbone), damage to articular cartilage at the ends of the bones, and/or damage to other knee ligaments.
What are the symptoms?
When injured, the patient may hear a popping sound and feel the knee give out. There is immediate pain and swelling, and knee instability. Within hours there is a total loss of range of motion. Walking will be difficult, if not impossible.
How is it diagnosed?
Evaluation will include physical examination, discussion of how the injury occurred, and your symptoms. Dr. Erik Stark may order x-rays to determine whether there are any fractures. An MRI may be ordered to evaluate the ACL for tears, and to check for evidence of other knee injuries. Special tests will be used to determine whether there are meniscus tears.