Understanding ACL Tears – Are They Really That Bad?

Few injuries are as infamous as the dreaded ACL tear. The boogeyman of the professional athlete and average Joe alike, ACL tears haunt our fitness aspirations and cause doubts in even the most astute care routines.

Half-myth, half-rumor—it can be hard to know the true nature of an ACL tear. But beyond the injury’s reputation lies a treatable injury.

The team at Alabama Orthopaedic Surgeons knows how frightening an ACL tear can be.  But with injuries, as with all things, knowledge is power. Unwrapping the mystery around ACL tears is as easy as asking the right questions.

 

What is an ACL to begin with?

The anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) connects your thighbone to your shinbone at the point of the knee. Critical for stabilization, the ACL can experience plenty of wear during any activity.

A healthy ACL prevents the lower leg from sliding forward and helps us perform quick side-to-side motions, pivots, and other sudden changes in direction.

While the ligament is most famous for ending professional athletic careers, its importance to any active individual can’t be overstated.

 

How does an ACL tear?

In the heat of sporting or exercising, we can sometimes lose awareness of our posture, the angle of our foot, or the way our leg is bent as we take a corner or turn to make a shot. Even professional athletes aren’t immune to a lapse of physical awareness.

Sudden and forceful changes in direction or momentum can trace back to the knee. Shifts in body weight rely on stability and our old friend: the ACL.

Direct blows to the knee can also cause tears in the ACL. Football or other physical activities can increase your risk of receiving a tearing injury.

 

What are the symptoms of an ACL tear?

ACL tears are usually recognizable by a “popping” sound or sensation from or in the injured knee. The injury is known to be painful and will usually prevent you from resuming the exercise or activity that caused it.

An injured knee struggles to bear weight and is accompanied by the expected symptoms: swelling and instability.

If you think you’ve experienced and ACL tear during any activity, it’s important to acknowledge the injury and seek medical assistance. Attempting to “push through it” or “overcome the pain” can cause further damage.

 

Can ACL tears be treated?

Despite its fearsome reputation, ACL tears are treatable.

Directly after a suspected ACL tear, it’s important to elevate the injured leg and ice the knee to reduce swelling. Anti-inflammatory medications can also help with both pain and swelling.

In the short term, a knee brace can prevent further damage, but you will need to see an orthopaedic surgeon to assess further treatment plans. \

Depending on the severity of your ACL tear, you may require corrective surgery or physical therapy to recover fully. Even so, have no fear. With the right attitude and proper orthopaedic care, you’ll be back on both feet in no time.

 

ACL Tears—not so big and bad

If you’ve experienced an ACL tear or suffer frequent knee pain and swelling, Alabama Orthopaedic Surgeons can help you understand the injury and plan a path toward recovery.

Ignoring knee pain won’t make it go away. Like the boogeyman of bedtimes gone by, facing the problem is the quickest way to cure it.