The anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) is instrumental in providing stability in the knee. It helps prevent the shinbone in your knee from sliding out in front of the kneecap and helps keep the knee from buckling under weight. When the ACL is torn in a traumatic injury, you will be unable to use your knee for many physically demanding activities. 

If you’ve hurt your knee, it can be hard to tell if it’s an ACL tear or something else since many injuries have similar symptoms. However, there are key identifying symptoms that point to a torn ACL.

Five signs of a torn ACL

Before reviewing the symptoms of a torn ACL, let’s consider how the pain developed in the first place. Did your knee receive a direct impact? Did you jump and land on your feet awkwardly? Did the pain occur when changing direction or pace while running? Did you overextend your knee and feel sudden pain? All of these are common reasons that people have a torn ACL. If this sounds like you and you notice any of the following symptoms, you should visit a doctor for an examination and treatment:

  1. You heard or felt a loud pop in the knee at the time of the injury.
  2. Your knee is in severe pain.
  3. Your knee is swollen.
  4. Your knee feels unstable and buckles under weight.
  5. You cannot fully bend or straighten your knee.

Diagnosing a torn ACL

A health care professional can examine the symptoms of your knee and review the incidents surrounding your injury. They will also review your medical history and run some diagnostic tests, including:

  • X-ray — Your doctor may order an X-ray to determine if there are any broken bones in the knee.
  • MRI scan — An MRI scan provides your doctor with a view of your soft tissue so they can see if the ACL is torn and if any other ligaments are injured.

Treating a torn ACL

Some people can recover from a torn ACL with physical therapy and some time. The ACL will remain torn, but you can regain the use of your knee for simple activities like walking or jogging. However, for those who rely on their knees for physically demanding activities like sports or manual labor, surgery is the only way to repair a torn ACL.

Orthopedic surgeons can perform ACL reconstruction surgery. In this procedure, surgeons will use tissue from a donor or tissue from your own body to replace the torn ACL. After a recovery period with some physical therapy, those who undergo ACL reconstruction surgery should regain stability and a more full use of the knee.

Visit iRISE Spine and Joint for ACL reconstruction surgery

Do you have the symptoms of a torn ACL? Are you ready to talk to a health care professional about treatment? Our orthopedic specialists at iRISE Spine and Joint are here for you. Contact our team today for more information about repairing a torn ACL or to schedule an initial appointment. 

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