Injury to the ACL is frequent and can be treated with surgery.
The anterior cruciate ligament (ACL), is located between two bones behind the knee cap. This juncture is what makes our legs feel stable when we walk or work out. The ACL gets injured when we make twisting motions, such as changing direction suddenly while running. Once it is torn, it cannot heal on its own.
How can I determine if my injury is serious?
You should see a physician immediately if your knee:
- Is swollen
- Experiences pain or tenderness
- Feels unstable
- Loses its normal range of motion
- Hurts when walking
X-rays or MRI scans can show the extent of the damage and whether the ACL has been ruptured or twisted. Neighboring bones and ligaments are often affected as well.
What role does physical therapy play?
Physical therapy rehabilitates many ACL injuries. A physician may suggest rehab if the:
- ACL was not completely torn
- Knee feels stable
- Patient leads a sedentary life
- Patient is a child whose growth plates are still developing
You will visit a physical therapist many times prior to an operation to maximize your leg’s range of motion. With that in mind, surgery rarely occurs less than 3 weeks after an injury. After surgery, the patient continues with rehab until the knee is strong enough to resume normal activities, which can take up to 3 months.
Who qualifies for ACL surgery?
Surgery replaces the torn ACL with a healthy tendon. Traditional surgery, where the knee is opened, and minimally invasive ACL surgery are both options for ACL repair. According to the American Association of Orthopaedic Surgeons, stability improves markedly better than in non-surgical patients. Surgery is particularly recommended if you:
- Plan to return to sports training
- Work in a profession that depends on knee strength
- Suffered from one or more ACL injuries in the past
Visit your physician today and learn about your knee health. Visit us online for more information or call Denton Regional Medical Center at (855) 477-DRMC (3762) for a physician referral.