Orthopedic Specialists Mend ACL Injuries
Osteoarthritis tops the list of diseases causing knee pain, but the sports injury category is clearly dominated by ligament damage. Most knee pain due to injury comes from activities that twist, strain, sprain, and tear the anterior cruciate ligament (ACL).
The ACL lies along the front and extends inside the kneecap, diagonally crossing the knee joint. This stabilizing ligament controls the back and forth mobility of your knee. Orthopedic surgeons at Baylor Scott & White Orthopedic and Spine Hospital – Arlington see ACL tears in athletes of all ages and from all types of sports, especially soccer, football, and basketball. In many cases of torn ACL, other tissues such as cartilage, meniscus, and nearby MCL or PCL ligaments also suffer damage.
What Are Symptoms of ACL Injury?
The popping noise you hear as you pivot at a full run, land awkwardly from a jump, or collide with a teammate may be the first indication of an ACL injury. Other symptoms of a sprained or torn ACL might include:
- Knee pain
- Weak feeling as if the knee cannot support you
- Instability during sports activities
- Limited range of motion
- Soreness around the knee joint
A visit to an orthopedic emergency room or making an appointment with a knee specialist provides a full assessment of the ACL injury. A physical exam and full medical history will usually be followed by diagnostic imaging tests such as an MRI to view the soft tissues within the knee. ACL “sprains” are graded based on severity of the ligament damage, from mild stretching and then loosening, to partial tearing and complete tearing with instability.
Orthopedic knee specialists refine ACL treatment depending on the individual patient’s age, physical condition, medical histo ry, and type of injury. Simple nonsurgical treatments such as physical therapy or bracing the knee can relieve knee pain for mild ACL strains or in cases where the patient is elderly, very young, or sedentary. A torn ACL will not heal without knee surgery, however.
ACL Surgery Rebuilds Ligaments
Rather than attempt to stitch the ligament together, which typically proves ineffective, orthopedic surgeons restore strength and stability with a tissue graft on the ACL. The ligament is reconstructed using tendon materials from your own body – often the hamstring, patellar, or quadriceps – or from a cadaver donor (allograft).
The procedure, as demonstrated in this ACL reconstruction video from the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons (AAOS), uses minimally invasive arthroscopic surgery. The knee surgery usually does not take place for a few weeks so that the injury can be stabilized and swelling reduced for better range of motion. Additional information is available in an AAOS patient education module about ACL reconstruction.
Depending on the individual case, ACL reconstruction patients often go home the same day as the minimally invasive surgery. A knee brace may be worn for several weeks, followed by physical therapy to return maximum range of motion over the course of a few months. Orthopedic surgery to reconstruct a torn ACL results in better knee stability, reduced pain and stiffness, and faster recovery time. Many patients are able to return to regular sports activities within 4 to 6 months.
Find ACL Knee Surgeons in Arlington
Patients having ACL reconstruction surgery at Baylor Scott & White Arlington benefit from the expert local team of orthopedic surgeons and sports medicine doctors. The specialty hospital offers advanced orthopedic surgical suites and the latest medical tools for treating ACL knee injuries. The facility is designed to provide convenient access to the most comprehensive, effective orthopedic knee procedures available today.
To receive accurate diagnosis and experienced orthopedic care for a torn ACL, call 855-41-ORTHO to make an appointment with an orthopedic knee surgeon at Baylor Scott & White Orthopedic and Spine Hospital – Arlington.