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Anterior Cruciate Ligament (ACL) Tears

What does the ACL do?

Perhaps the most important ligament in the knee is the anterior cruciate ligament (ACL). It is no bigger than your little finger and runs from the front of your shinbone (tibia) to the back of your thighbone (femur). The ACL has several functions:

What types of ACL injuries are there?

There are three degrees of ACL sprains:

How do ACL injuries happen?

There are two common ways that the ACL is injured:

What are the symptoms of an ACL injury?

Symptoms of an ACL injury include:

It is not uncommon to damage other structures in the knee with the initial ACL injury. This includes disruption of other ligaments, tendons, and/or cartilage of the knee. These other injuries can result in more pain and increased swelling, and complicate the diagnosis and treatment.

How is an ACL tear diagnosed?

In order to determine the cause of your symptoms and the extent of the injury, your doctor will ask you questions and perform a physical examination. X-rays are helpful in viewing the bony anatomy of the knee and can confirm or eliminate a diagnosis.

After your doctor has conducted the examination, he or she may recommend that you undergo more diagnostic tests, such as an MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) scan. An MRI allows your specialist to clearly see the muscles, tendons, and ligaments of the knee. This information helps him or her formulate a treatment plan tailored to your needs.


What are the treatment options for an ACL injury?

The decision to proceed with surgical versus nonsurgical treatment is determined by the patient’s overall health and physical activity. There is a consensus among orthopedic surgeons that in a physically active patient, a torn ACL requires surgical reconstruction. Without an ACL, the knee is inherently unstable, and the patient risks further injury when participating in activities.

Immediately after injury, the treatment plan is focused on reducing the patient’s pain and swelling while increasing knee strength. Physical therapy can be very useful in this regard, and your specialist may wish that you see a physical therapist prior to surgery. If this is the case, surgery can be scheduled once the pain and inflammation are under control.

What happens during ACL reconstruction surgery?

ACL reconstruction is performed arthroscopically to ensure proper graft placement and minimize the risk of complications.

What can I expect during recovery from ACL surgery?

What is cold compression therapy, and why did my doctor recommend it?

Your doctor may prescribe a cold compression therapy unit for you to use after your surgery. Integrated cold and compression is clinically proven to:

Summit Orthopedics believes that the cold compression therapy unit will provide you with the best possible outcome in the days following your surgery.

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