ACL Knee Injuries (Anterior Cruciate Ligament)
Read about my
While there are 4 main ligaments located in the knee, injuries to the ACL (anterior cruciate ligament) are the most common knee injuries seen.
- A popping sound that comes from inside the knee
- A feeling that the knee is giving away
- Immediate, intense knee pain
- Immediate swelling, inflammation, redness and slight bruising
Trauma to the ACL is typically caused during an athletic activity (such as soccer or football) and is also commonly seen during outdoor play such as water and snow skiing and from common falls and accidents. Females are at a higher risk for experiencing an ACL injury—in fact—competitive female soccer and basketball players have 3-5 times higher risk of an ACL injury than their male counterparts. Strength, size and hormonal changes are notable factors.
- Grade I – A Grade 1 ACL knee injury will include some moderate trauma to the ligament—meaning that some of the fibers are stretched leading to a sprain. There will be some pain and swelling, but this injury can heal on its own through rest, the use of ice and anti-inflammatory medications and therapeutic knee exercises.
- Grade II – A Grade 2 ACL knee injury will include some tears to the knee fibers. Symptoms will be more severe. This injury is commonly referred to as an ACL ‘partial tear’ and will sometimes require surgery.
- Grade III – A Grade 3 ACL knee injury is the most severe ACL injury and represents a complete tear whereas the fibers of the knee ligament are completely torn in half. Almost always, this particular ACL knee injury will require surgery to fix.
If a person has injured their ACL and they do not experience knee instability nor have the need to use their ACL for sports or other daily activities, physical therapy may be enough to heal the injury. Dr. Millett will look at how old the knee injury is, how old the patient is and the types of activities the patient enjoys.
If more than one ligament in the knee has been torn, or if the ACL tear is a full tear and there are signs of ongoing knee instability, pain and swelling, ACL surgery may be recommended. In most cases, if the individual is active and participating in sports with a pivoting nature (such as soccer, tennis, skiing or football) surgery will repair the injury so that the athlete can play his or her sport again. In these instances, ACL reconstructive surgery is the best option.
For more information on ACL injuries to the knee (anterior cruciate ligament), or for additional resources on injuries to the knee, please contact Peter Millett, MD of Vail, CO.