Many athletes fear anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) injuries not only because of the pain it can cause but because it can sideline them from the sport they love. Football, basketball, volleyball, and soccer players are especially prone to ACL tears.
When Do ACL Tears Occur?
The ACL is a ligament found in the middle of the knee. It is surrounded by meniscus cartilage and other ligaments. If this area experiences too much stress, the ligament can be torn. This usually occurs due to sudden pivots in direction or awkward lands after a jump. The ACL can also be torn if a person suddenly stops or slows down before swiftly changing directions.
Once an ACL tear occurs, surrounding muscles and meniscus cartilages may also be damaged, causing a huge deal of pain. The damage caused by an ACL tear can range from a stretched ligament to a partial or complete tear.
How to Know if You Tore Your ACL
It is easy to determine whether or not you have an ACL tear. One of the first signs is a loud popping sound as the moment of injury, when the ligament tears. It may also be possible for bystanders to hear it. Other symptoms may include:
● The inability to continue an activity
● Excruciating pain in the knee area
● Knee swelling within an hour or two caused by blood filling up the knee joint
● The knee feeling warm to the touch due to the bleeding
● Difficulty extending or straightening the knee
● Difficulty walking
If you experience any of the above symptoms, you will need immediate medical attention.
A doctor will conduct a physical examination and will likely order imaging tests such as X-rays or an MRI to confirm the diagnosis and identify the extent of the injury. X-rays are used to check if a broken bone is causing your symptoms. An MRI, on the other hand, can reveal greater detail about soft tissue within the body, like ligaments.
It’s important that you see an orthopedic specialist to help you decide on the best treatment approach for you. After all, if not properly addressed, you may be left with an unstable knee – which increases your risk of future re-injury in the area. Also, if you suffer an ACL injury, you have a higher risk of developing osteoarthritis in the knee.
You won’t need to treat an ACL injury if you can prevent it from occurring in the first place. Using proper training, practice, and exercise methods, you can lower your risk of an ACL tear. An orthopedic sports medicine specialist, physical therapist, or athletic trainer, can best guide you with this.
Orthopedic Care in Johnson City and Kingsport, TN
Watauga Orthopaedics in northeast Tennessee is here to help you with your knee injury, such as an ACL tear. We offer general and specialized orthopedic care with focus on sports medicine, physical therapy, and rehabilitation. Call Watauga Orthopaedics today at (423) 282-9011 or request an appointment now.