The ACL refers to the anterior cruciate ligament in the knee. The knee is stabilized at rest and during movement by the anterior, medial, lateral, and posterior cruciate ligaments. The ACL connects the femur to the tibia and helps the knee to maintain proper function, especially during motion associated with sports and other recreational activities. Because of its location and the type of movement it allows, it’s one of the most commonly injured structures in the knee. An ACL injury can range from mild to severe. If the ligament is severely or completely torn, often surgery is recommended to help stabilize the knee and allow the patient to return to activities.
ACL injuries are the result of many different activities or movements. Classically, a twisting or pivoting knee injury followed by a “pop” and knee swelling may suggest a torn ACL. Blunt force trauma to the knee from any direction may also result in the ACL being damaged or torn. Slip and fall accidents can also produce injuries that result in a tear or pull to the ACL. Any activity that involves the abrupt stopping and pivoting on one leg may result in an ACL injury. Baseball, basketball, soccer, skiing and football are common sports that report repeated ACL injuries.
ACL injuries are treated in several ways, depending on the extent of the damage to the ACL and the presence or absence of injury to the other structures of the knee joint. For minor injuries, a combination of rest, ice, elevation, compression, and anti-inflammatories may help with immediate symptoms of pain and swelling. Early light exercise within a comfortable range of motion helps to maintain flexibility and minimizes swelling. More severe injuries that cause a completely torn ACL may require surgery to reconstruct the ligament and stabilize the knee. It is common that an x-ray and an MRI may be ordered to confirm the diagnosis of an ACL injury and to rule out injury to other structures in the knee such as the meniscus or collateral ligaments.
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"Dr. Carlson was courteous and practical, and ready to propose options. Despite the late Friday hour, he also spent extra time with me to discuss about other concerns."
"I'm walking better than I have in months after my knee surgery. I'd definitely see Dr. Kaplan again should the need arise."