The anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) is the most vulnerable knee ligament due to its placement out in front within the knee joint. This ligament functions to stabilize the knee while rotating and moving, and together with the PCL (posterior cruciate ligament) it connects your femur (thighbone, or upper leg bone) to your tibia (shinbone, or lower leg bone).
The ACL is therefore prone to tearing through overuse and overstretching. A torn ACL can be a partial tear or a full tear, and treatment varies depending on the severity of the tear in your knee.
An ACL tear can happen to people young and old, men and women. The first signs of an ACL injury include pain when putting weight on your knee, hearing a popping sound when moving the knee, and feeling a grinding sensation in your knee.
Fortunately, there are effective treatments for ACL tears. Let’s talk about what those treatments are and what is involved.
Treatment for a New ACL Tear
The moment you suspect that you may have a torn ACL, administer first-aid care to reduce pain and swelling immediately. It is best to perform a modified version of the RICE method on your injured knee:
- First, apply ice to your knee for 20 minutes. Do this every two hours. Be sure to wrap the ice or ice pack with a towel so the cold surface isn’t in direct contact with your skin; otherwise, you could give yourself frostbite.
- Second, compression encourages healing of the ACL tear. Apply a compression wrap around the affected knee. Be sure not to wrap it too tight so it does not cut off your circulation.
- Third, get plenty of rest in order to encourage healing of the torn ACL. Avoid putting too much weight or pressure on the affected knee – it is a good idea to use crutches or a cane when walking.
- Fourth, elevate your knee whenever you’re sitting or lying down. This will help to minimize swelling.
Physical Therapy on the Knee
An ACL tear will respond well to physical therapy exercises. After your injury has indeed been diagnosed by a physician as an ACL tear, and the doctor has prescribed physical therapy, your therapist will know what type of exercises to have you perform in order to help your knee heal properly and fully.
You should continue to perform these physical therapy exercises every day at home until your ACL has healed completely. This will help your knee regain strength and a full range of motion.
ACL Repair Surgery
A majority of ACL tears heal on their own. However, if your knee injury isn’t responding well to physical therapy or to the less-invasive treatment methods, or if your knee keeps being reinjured, your doctor may recommend ACL reconstruction surgery.
Success of ACL repair surgery largely depends on how well your body responds to the rehabilitative therapy that follows. Check with your doctor before engaging in any special physical activities while you heal.
ACL Tear Treatment in Maryland
If you have chronic knee pain or you suspect that you’ve sustained an ACL tear, schedule a consultation with our experienced medical team at Orthopaedic Associates of Central Maryland. We have been treating knee injuries and knee pain for many years, and we can help you get back to normal as quickly as possible.
Call us today at (410) 644-1880 or (855) 4MD-BONE (463-2663) or fill out our appointment request form online to schedule a visit with one of our expert orthopedic physicians. Our friendly staff is happy to serve you, and we look forward to helping you get back your mobility.