Whether you’re a seasoned athlete or just beginning your fitness journey, an ACL tear can set you back. The specialists at Oasis Hospital are the leading experts on orthopedic surgery in the Phoenix area, and they’re here to help.
We’ll discuss the causes of ACL injuries, the signs to look out for, its diagnosis, and how our hospital can assist you in recovering.
What is an ACL tear and what are the symptoms?
The ACL, or anterior cruciate ligament, is one of the four main ligaments in your knee. It’s located in the middle of your knee joint and connects your femur (thighbone) to your tibia (shinbone).
According to MedlinePlus, an anterior cruciate ligament injury is when the ACL in your knee becomes stretched or torn. It could be only a partial tear, but it can also result in a complete tear.
An ACL tear is a common knee injury, especially among athletes. NCBI states that approximately 1 in 3500 people in the United States suffer from this injury each year. It can happen during any activity that puts sudden stress on your knee, like changing directions or stopping suddenly.
It can also be due to a direct hit to the knee, such as during a football tackle. You might hear a “popping” noise when the tear occurs.
Other symptoms of an ACL tear include:
- Severe pain in your knee
- Swelling in your knee
- Stiffness in your knee
- Inability to put weight on your knee
- Instability in your knee joint
If you experience any of these symptoms, you must immediately see a doctor or orthopedic surgeon. An ACL tear can’t heal on its own, and it may require surgery to repair.
How is an ACL tear diagnosed?
The first step you should take if you think you’ve torn your ACL is to see a doctor. AFP states that perform ACL evaluation immediately for post-injury; however, swelling and pain can often restrict this from happening.
Your doctor will start by asking about your symptoms and medical history. They’ll also perform a physical examination of your knee. It will help them rule out other conditions that can cause similar symptoms, such as a meniscus.
Your doctor might also order one or more of the following tests:
- X-ray: This can help rule out other conditions that might be causing your symptoms, such as a fracture.
- MRI: This imaging test uses magnetic waves to create detailed pictures of your knee. It can show whether there is a possible torn ACL and how bad the damage is.
- CT scan: This imaging test uses X-rays to create detailed cross-sectional pictures of your knee.
Your doctor will use this information to diagnose an ACL tear and determine the best treatment for you.