An ACL tear describes an injury to the anterior cruciate ligament, one of the four major ligaments that support the knee joint. Ligaments are tough, stiff fibers that hold bones together. The ACL in particular connects the femur to the tibia, keeping these leg bones from shifting out of place. ACL tears are among the most commonly occurring sports injuries in athletes of various ages.

Because the ACL is not very flexible, it can be stretched beyond its limit and torn during sudden pivoting motions, while landing from a jump, or while slowing down from running. Trauma to the knee, such as a direct hit from an object or player, can also cause the ACL to tear. Common indicators of a torn ACL include pain, swelling, and a feeling of knee instability. Many people say they feel or hear a “pop” in the knee when the injury occurs.

An ACL tear may be a challenging injury to overcome, since the knee plays a vital role in many everyday movements and ligaments are not capable of healing themselves. That’s why it’s so important to promptly seek care from a physician if you suspect your knee is injured. If you cannot immediately see a physician, follow the RICE protocol (Rest, Ice, Compression, and Elevation) until you can receive professional treatment.

The ideal course of rehabilitation will depend on the extent of the patient’s ACL tear and his or her activity levels. For instance, a young, active adult may opt to undergo surgery to fully repair the ligament and restore range of motion, while someone with a less active lifestyle may be able to effectively manage their pain through conservative methods like physical therapy and temporary bracing.

Contact Florida Medical Orthopaedics, Sports Medicine & Spine today if you would like to speak with an experienced orthopaedic specialist within our physician network. We will be happy to direct you to a physician who can outline your ACL tear treatment options and best meet your needs.

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