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How Serious Is An ACL Injury?

How Serious Is An ACL Injury?

March 20, 2014

An ACL injury is one of the most common types of knee injuries. The anterior cruciate ligament, or ACL, is a ligament located in the knee that connects the patella to the tibia. The muscle is used in everyday activities but can easily become torn during extensive activity or high demand sports. As a result, athletes are most at risk for this type of injury – especially those that do a lot of running, stopping, or jumping, like soccer, football, and basketball players. Female athletes, possibly due to differing body composition, tend to be at a higher risk than male athletes.

What are the symptoms of an ACL surgery?

Symptoms of an ACL tear are similar to many other sports injuries. The symptoms will often feel like an over-exaggerated sprain in the knee. Swelling, discomfort while walking, tenderness, and loss of range of motion are all symptoms that an ACL injury has occurred. Many patients also feel like their knee is not connected to the bottom part of the leg and mention that they feel their knee will “give out” if they put any weight on it.

What kind of treatment is needed?

Understanding the type of ACL injury that has occurred is the determining factor behind the treatment needed for the injury. There are three levels of ACL sprains that can happen. A grade 1, grade 2, and grade 3 ranking are how the injuries are determined with increasing levels of severity.

  • Grade 1 ACL injuries are not very common and generally do not involve much treatment, other than temperature therapy and rest. This is because the muscle has only been stretched and is not separated in any way.
  • Grade 2 injuries are more severe and often require some sort of physical therapy to treat the ligament. This type of injury causes the ligament to stretch to the point of becoming loose while creating small tears and may require that the patient wears a brace for an extended period of time.
  • A grade 3 injury is the most severe and most common type of sprain seen in the ACL. At this level, the ligament becomes completely detached and breaks into two pieces. A grade 3 injury requires surgery, physical therapy, a brace, and may prevent an athlete from participating in sports in the future.
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