ANTERIOR CRUCIATE LIGAMENT (ACL) TEAR
The anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) is one of the four major ligaments in the knee. The ACL is in the middle of the knee and runs from the end of the femur (thigh bone) to the top of the tibia (shin bone). The primary role of the ACL is to provide knee stability in multiple different planes. The ACL is particularly important in providing stability to the knee during cutting activities, such as soccer, basketball, or even hiking. A secondary role of the ACL is to provide protection for the menisci (soft tissue pads) and articular cartilage in the knee. In an individual with a torn ACL, the menisci and cartilage are placed under tremendous stress, which can lead to tearing, and potentially arthritis.
- Swollen knee following an injury
- Feeling unstable, as if the knee will “give out”
- Apprehension with sporting activities
Diagnosis And Treatment
Dr. Welch considers each patient’s symptoms, as well as a detailed physical examination, x-rays, and usually and MRI of the knee to make the diagnosis. Patients who sustain a low grade ACL injury (Grade I or II) in which the ACL is still functional can be treated with a period of rest (no sports), intermittent icing, anti-inflammatory medication, and a specific physical therapy program. Physical therapy focuses on reducing swelling in the knee, restoring range of motion, and strengthening of the muscle units that support the hip, core, and knee. In those patients who sustain a Grade III tear with instability of the knee, many patients, particularly those who are young and athletic, require surgical intervention.
Surgery is designed to restore stability to the knee and also to prevent injury to other structures in the knee, particularly the meniscus pads and the articular cartilage that protects the knee. The proper surgical technique for ACL reconstruction has changed tremendously over the last 10-15 years, and Dr. Welch uses the most current, evidenced-based surgical techniques to achieve the best outcome.
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