Updated: May 16
ACL (anterior cruciate ligament) tear and all you need to know.
The anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) is a vital part of the knee joint, responsible for providing stability and preventing excessive forward movement of the tibia bone. Unfortunately, ACL injuries are common in athletes and active individuals, and can lead to significant pain, instability, and reduced mobility. In this article, we'll discuss the causes, treatment options, symptoms, and athletes who have suffered this injury.
Causes of an ACL Tear:
ACL tears are most commonly caused by sudden stops or changes in direction, pivoting or twisting the knee, or direct blows to the knee. These injuries are most common in athletes who participate in sports such as basketball, soccer, football, and skiing.
Symptoms of an ACL tear include a "popping" sound at the time of injury, pain and swelling, knee instability, and reduced range of motion. It's important to seek medical attention immediately if you suspect an ACL tear, as delaying treatment can lead to further complications.
There are three types of ACL injuries:
Grade 1 ACL tear: This is a mild sprain, where the ACL has been slightly stretched, but is still intact. The knee is still stable, and the injury may heal on its own or with some physical therapy.
Grade 2 ACL tear: This is a partial tear, where the ACL has been stretched to the point of being loose, but is still partially intact. The knee may feel unstable, and surgery may be required to repair the tear.
Grade 3 ACL tear: This is a complete tear, where the ACL has been completely torn. The knee is usually unstable, and surgery is almost always required to repair the tear.
Treatment Options For An ACL Tear:
The most common treatment for an ACL tear is surgical reconstruction, which involves replacing the torn ligament with a tendon graft. Rehabilitation and physical therapy are also essential components of treatment, as they can help restore strength, flexibility, and range of motion to the knee. Additionally, non-surgical treatments such as bracing and activity modification may be recommended in certain cases.
Several types of doctors can treat an ACL tear, including:
Orthopedic Surgeons: Orthopedic surgeons are specialists in treating musculoskeletal injuries and conditions, including ACL tears. They can evaluate the injury, diagnose the severity of the tear, and recommend the appropriate treatment.
Sports Medicine Physicians: Sports medicine physicians are medical professionals with specialized training in the diagnosis and treatment of sports-related injuries, including ACL tears. They can help athletes with rehabilitation and provide guidance on preventing future injuries.
Physical Therapists: Physical therapists can help with the rehabilitation process following an ACL tear. They can design a personalized exercise program to help the patient regain strength and mobility in the affected knee.
Rehabilitation Specialists: Rehabilitation specialists can provide specialized care for patients with an ACL tear. They can work with patients to develop a rehabilitation plan that focuses on regaining strength and mobility in the knee.
Primary Care Physicians: Primary care physicians can diagnose an ACL tear and refer patients to specialists for further evaluation and treatment. They can also provide guidance on pain management and overall health and wellness during the recovery process.
Athletes Who Have Suffered This Injury:
Tom Brady - The NFL quarterback tore his ACL in 2008 and underwent surgery to repair it. He missed the rest of the season but was able to make a successful recovery and continue his football career.
Derrick Rose - The NBA player suffered an ACL tear in 2012 and underwent surgery. He took a full year to recover and returned to the court in the 2013-2014 season.
Lindsey Vonn - The Olympic skier suffered an ACL tear in 2013 and underwent surgery to repair it. She took time off to recover but was able to compete again in the 2014 Winter Olympics.
Robert Griffin III - The NFL quarterback tore his ACL in 2012 and underwent surgery. He was able to recover and return to the field in the 2013 season.
Maria Sharapova - The tennis player suffered an ACL tear in 2008 and underwent surgery. She took time off to recover but was able to return to the court and continue her career.
Rob Gronkowski - The NFL tight end suffered an ACL tear in 2013 and underwent surgery. He took several months to recover but was able to return to the field in the 2014 season.
Adrian Peterson - The NFL running back suffered an ACL tear in 2011 and underwent surgery. He made a successful recovery and returned to the field in the 2012 season.
Jabari Parker - The NBA player suffered an ACL tear in 2014 and underwent surgery. He took a full year to recover and returned to the court in the 2015-2016 season.
Mayo Clinic. (2021). Anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) injury. https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/acl-injury/symptoms-causes/syc-20350738
American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons. (2021). Anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) injuries. https://orthoinfo.aaos.org/en/diseases--conditions/anterior-cruciate-ligament-acl-injuries/
Google Scholar: scholar.google.com
The Cochrane Library: www.cochranelibrary.com
National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI): www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov
New York Pain Doctors: www.newyorpaindoctors.com (NYPMD)