At Redwood Orthopaedic Surgery Associates, we specialize in the diagnosis and treatment of meniscus and ACL tears. Our dedicated team of orthopaedic surgeons is board-certified experts who use the most advanced diagnostic tools and treatment modalities to get you on your feet again.
The ACL (anterior cruciate ligament) is one of the most commonly injured ligaments in the knee. People who play sports such as basketball, football, skiing and soccer are at greatest risk for injuring the ACL. About half of the ACL injuries are accompanied by damage to the meniscus, cartilage, bone or other ligaments in the knee.
Causes of an ACL Injury
The ACL connects the femur and tibia, providing stabilization to the knee and the femur, specifically when the knee moves towards the tibia.
Only about 30% of ACL injuries result from direct contact with another player or object. ACL injuries are seen frequently in patients who ski, play football, basketball, and soccer. The rest occur when the athlete decelerates while cutting, pivoting, or sidestepping. With sudden stops or pivots, the knee hyperextends while the foot remains stationary.
ACL Tear Symptoms
Signs that you may have injured your ACL include pain, swelling, and instability immediately after injury to your knee. An injury to this ligament causes the knee to become unstable. You may have also heard a popping sound at the time of injury, which lead to immediate pain, swelling, and limited range of motion. It is important to note that not everyone experiences the same symptomatology. Some patients may experience a delayed onset of pain, swelling, and popping after an ACL injury.
Diagnosis of ACL Injuries
Diagnosis of an ACL injury can be made with physical examination and MRI imaging. During your examination, your knee will be put through a range of motion, if possible, to determine if the ACL is torn. If a tear is suspected, an MRI can confirm the diagnosis, the extent of the injury and also diagnose possible injury to surrounding ligaments and muscles.
Treatment For ACL Injuries
Treatment of ACL injuries depends on the extent of the injury or tear. Minor ACL injuries may only require a period of rest, immobilization, and over-the-counter pain medication. For more severe ACL injuries or complete tears, treatment for ACL injuries involves completely removing the damaged ligament and replacing it with new tissue. See more about the ACL Treatment by watching our procedure animations. Simply reconnecting the torn ends will not repair the ACL. A tendon from another part of the body, usually from the knee or hamstring, is used to create a graft for the new ACL. However, sometimes a cadaver tendon is used to reconstruct the ACL. Choosing the proper type of graft depends on each patient’s condition.
Recovery From ACL Surgery
ACL surgery requires a few months for a full recovery. Physical rehabilitation will be needed as well. Physical rehabilitation teaches you a series of exercises that you can do to improve range of motion as well as strengthen the ACL and surrounding musculature. Surgery is not required for all ACL injuries. If surgical repair is necessary, the recovery period can range from three to six months or more. This again will depend on the extent of the injury and how well you respond to therapy.
Talk to a doctor at Redwood Orthopaedic in Santa Rosa, CA to find out if ACL reconstruction is right for you.
Types of ACL Injuries
Partial ACL Tear
This type of ACL tear happens when the anterior cruciate ligament is partially torn. Some patients with partial ACL tears may experience intermittent or ongoing knee instability, localized pain, and swelling. While some patients respond favorably to non-surgical treatments, such as using a knee brace, surgical repair may be recommended to patients whose symptoms don’t resolve or worsen over time.
Complete ACL Tear
Complete ACL tears occur when the ligament is completely ruptured. This type of injury is often directly related to a sports injury that involves a sudden stop or change in direction. Complete ACL tears can cause extreme pain, swelling, and knee instability. Most people with complete ACL tears cannot bear weight on the affected knee.
Treatment for a Torn ACL
Treatment for a torn ACL will depend on its severity. If it’s only a partial tear, rest, ice, elevation, and over-the-counter medication will be recommended. However, in cases of complete ACL tears or ruptures, surgical intervention may be warranted. During arthroscopic reconstruction, the damaged portion of the ligament is removed and replaced with a new tissue graft.
Recovery From ACL Surgery
It usually takes several months to make a full recovery after surgery. Some patients may also require physical therapy as well.
Whether you’ve sustained an ACL injury or think you’ve torn your meniscus, Redwood Orthopaedic Surgery Associates can help. We provide surgical and non-surgical treatment options in Santa Ana and Petaluma, California. Call us today at 707-544-3400 to learn more about arthroscopic surgery or schedule an appointment.