Playing sports and physical activities like running or biking are excellent ways to stay in shape. However, if your body isn’t conditioned properly, these activities also can lead to many different types of injuries, including ACL tears. These tears affect your knees, and may end up leaving you on the sidelines.
At Bay Oaks Orthopedics, our skilled team are experts in taking care of knee injuries, especially when you hurt your ACL. Dr. Anthony Melillo is our board-certified orthopedic surgeon who helps you decide if your injury can heal by itself, or if you need surgical treatment for your ACL tear.
What is your ACL?
Your knee is a complex joint, made up of not only bones, but tendons and ligaments as well. One of the main ligaments in your knee is known as your anterior cruciate ligament, or ACL. Your ACL is very important, as it helps to keep your femur and your tibia connected at your knee joint.
Your ACL is prone to injury, due to the fact that it’s the main ligament in your knee. It’s most commonly injured during sports, such as soccer or football. This is because it’s normally torn when making certain motions, such as:
- Stopping suddenly
- Pivoting and changing directions
- Landing incorrectly
Injuries may also occur if you suffer blunt trauma to your knee, such as getting tackled during a football game, or a severe fall. You should be able to tell right away if your ACL is torn, as it usually causes pain and instability in your knee.
Symptoms of a tear
If you’re active in just about any way, you’re technically at risk for an ACL injury in your knee. Knowing what symptoms to look out for can help you prevent further damage to your knee. So how can you tell if you’re dealing with a torn ACL?
If you experience any of the following symptoms after performing any of the above motions during an activity, it’s probably a good chance that you tore your ACL. Here are a few of the common signs that you might experience when you tear your ACL:
- Swelling that develops quickly
- Decreased range of motion
- Instability in your knee
- Severe pain in your knee
Although these symptoms can point you toward an ACL injury, one of the key signs is a popping sound in your knee. It may also feel like something snapped inside of your joint.
If you have experienced any of the above symptoms, it’s important for you to get treatment as soon as possible. Early treatment helps you not only avoid surgery, but also knee problems later on.
Will your ACL tear heal on its own?
When you’re faced with an ACL injury, there’s a lot of treatment options. However, how do you know if you’ll need surgery to repair the tear, or if it’ll heal on its own?
The answer is actually pretty simple. Because your ACL helps to stabilize your knee, the proper treatment is important to having use of your knee later on in life. There are some circumstances that are okay for you to let the ACL tear heal on its own, and they include:
- Partial tears without instability
- Complete tears where high intensity sports aren’t an option
- Tears in someone who lives a sedentary lifestyle
- Kids with open growth plates
Of course, these are just guidelines, and Dr. Melillo gives you his suggestion after your consultation. However, if you’re very active and want to keep playing sports or doing high intensity exercises, you may want to consider surgery.
Although complete ACL tears can sometimes heal on their own, your knee most likely won’t be the same as it was before the injury. This is due to the instability caused by a torn ACL. Physical therapy and rehabilitative exercises can help, but if you want to get back to high impact sports, surgery may be the best option.
Of course, Dr. Melillo discusses your best option during your appointment because there isn’t a clear cut answer to surgery or no surgery for your torn ACL.
If you’ve recently suffered an ACL injury and need treatment, call us today at 281-223-1391, or book an appointment with Dr. Melillo using our convenient online booking tool.