Your knees take on a lot of your weight throughout the day — making them prone to pain and injury. One of the ways you can injure your knee is through your ACL. This type of injury can keep you away from your activities, and affect your daily life.
At Bay Oaks Orthopaedics, our team specializes in all kinds of orthopedic problems, including those that affect your knees. Dr. Anthony Melillo is our in-house orthopedic specialist, who gets you the treatment you need after you’ve suffered an injury to your ACL.
What is your ACL?
Your ACL, or anterior cruciate ligament, is one of the main ligaments that helps to stabilize your knee joint. Your joint is formed by three bones — the kneecap, thigh bone, and shin bone. These three are held together with a strong network of ligaments.
Your ACL works with your PCL, or posterior cruciate ligament, to allow your knee to move back and forth. They also help to provide support and stability to your knee.
The main goal of your ACL is to stabilize your shin bone, so it doesn’t slide away from the thigh bone. It runs diagonally through your knee joint, which helps to stabilize the bones in your knee.
Along with your ACL and PCL, there are also collateral ligaments that work to provide stability. These are located on the side of your knee joint, and allow side-to-side motion of your knee.
Common ACL injuries
When you injure your ACL, it’s actually considered a sprain of the ligament. These types of sprains range in severity from mild to a complete tear. There are three common types of ACL injuries, and they include:
Grade 1 sprain
This type of ACL injury happens when the ligament is stretched, but not torn. It’s only slightly damaged, but still has the ability to stabilize your knee joint appropriately.
Grade 2 sprain
A grade 2 sprain happens when your ACL becomes loose because it was stretched during an injury. It’s sometimes considered a partial tear of the ACL.
Grade 3 sprain
This is the most severe ACL injury, as it involves the ligament being completely torn. It’s often split in two, and causes the knee joint to become very unstable.
When you suffer an ACL injury, Dr. Melillo performs a physical exam and imaging to determine the damage to your joint. He asks you about how you injured it, and evaluates your symptoms to come up with a treatment plan.
Symptoms of an ACL injury
When you injure your ACL, you’ll likely know it right away. Even though there are varying degrees of severity, the symptoms of an ACL injury are pretty straightforward. When you suffer this type of injury, you may notice symptoms such as:
- Decreased range of motion
- A “popping” sound or feeling
- Instability in your knee
- Swelling in your knee
- Tenderness around the joint
In many cases, you’ll also feel pretty intense pain after an ACL injury. The pain is usually so severe that you can’t continue the activity you’re doing.
How is an ACL injury treated?
If Dr. Mellilo determines that you’ve suffered an ACL injury, treatment is focused on decreasing your pain and improving stability of your knee. In mild cases where your knee is still relatively stable, Dr. Mellilo may recommend physical therapy and bracing.
However, any kind of tear to your ACL won’t heal properly without surgical repair. If you’re young and active, and your knee joint is unstable, Dr. Mellilo recommends surgical repair of your ACL.
An ACL reconstruction uses either your own tendons or a donor tendon to reconstruct your ACL and provide increased stability in the joint. The procedure is performed arthroscopically, which only requires a few smaller incisions in your knee.
After the procedure, you’ll need to go through physical therapy to regain strength and mobility in your knee. However, in most cases, you’ll be able to get back to your normal activities after several months of healing and rehabilitation.
If you think you’ve injured your ACL, don’t hesitate to call us today at 281-223-1391, or book an appointment with Dr. Melillo using our convenient online booking tool.