Anterior Cruciate Ligament (ACL) injuries are one of the most common sports injuries, occurring more than 200,000 times a year. The ACL is one of the main stabilizing ligaments of the knee that prevent the joint from sliding forward or rotating outward.
ACL Injury Causes & Risk Factors
An ACL injury occurs when the anterior cruciate ligament in the knee is torn or stretched. The ACL can be injured by direct contact via a collision, or by noncontact via rapid direction change, awkward landing or sudden stop in motion. Athletes involved in high-impact sports are most at risk for ACL injuries.
Non-operative treatment methods, such as icing the knee, wearing a brace and physical therapy, can help patients with ACL injuries. However, athletes who want to quickly return to sports or those who may be dealing with combined injuries will typically require minimally invasive surgery to restore function to the ligament and stability to the knee.
Symptoms of a Torn ACL
The most common symptom of an ACL injury is experiencing a sudden “pop” in your knee when the ligament tears. Other common signs of an ACL injury include:
- Feeling pain in your knee joint
- Swelling of the knee within 24 hours of the initial injury occurring
- Losing full range of motion in your knee
- Having an unstable or buckling sensation in your knee
If you are experiencing any of the above symptoms, it’s important to have your condition assessed by a specialist. At Florida Medical Orthopaedics, Sports Medicine & Spine, we are passionate about proper diagnosis and treatment of ACL injuries. An ACL injury diagnosis can typically be made during an initial physical exam, but further testing may be required to evaluate other soft tissue structural damage, such as a meniscus tear.
Sports medicine specialist, Dr. Ira Guttentag, M.D., F.A.C.S., can perform various tests to make an ACL injury diagnosis, including the Lachman Test, Anterior Drawer Test and Pivot Shift Test. He may also request an MRI or X-ray to further determine the amount of damage to the ACL and knee joint.
ACL Injury Treatment
Treatment for an ACL injury is tailored to your individual needs. For most active athletes, ACL reconstruction will be recommended. If your condition requires surgery, Dr. Guttentag can help you get back in the game with his minimally invasive approach to reconstructing the ACL. With this approach, patients spend less time in surgery so they can accelerate their recovery and heal faster and more fully than they would with traditional ACL surgery.
Surgical repair of the ACL requires reconstruction with a graft donated from the patient (autograft) or cadaver (allograft). This can come in the form of a patella, hamstring or quadriceps tendon. The procedure is performed arthroscopically in an outpatient facility. Rehab is started immediately and full release to sports can be accomplished in as little as 6-9 months, based on graft choice and concomitant injuries (meniscus/cartilage).
Request an Appointment with Dr. Guttentag, Sports Medicine Doctor
As the Medical Director and Head Team Physician for the Tampa Bay Lightning, Dr. Guttentag is well-versed in sports medicine. With Dr. Guttentag, you can rest assured that you are in good hands when seeking treatment for your ACL injury. To schedule a consultation with Dr. Guttentag to learn more about your surgical options for treating an ACL injury, request an appointment with Florida Medical Orthopaedics, Sports Medicine & Spine today.