Author: Rosemary Buckle, M.D.
ACL injuries – that’s the anterior cruciate ligament for those who are fortunate enough to not have experienced one of these knee injuries – are some of the most common sports injuries we see. It has been estimated that there are approximately 200,000 of these injuries in the U.S. per year.
What is an ACL injury?
The ACL is a major ligament in the knee. (Ligaments connect bone to bone.) This ligament plays a major role in sudden motions like jumping and changing direction. The majority of ACL injuries occur when people are participating in high-action sports like basketball, football or soccer.
It is common to hear or feel a popping sound in the knee when an ACL injury occurs. Immediate symptoms may include pain that prevents the knee from bearing weight and a feeling of instability in the joint. Swelling typically begins with a few hours, limiting range of motion and causing pain to continue.
How is an ACL injury diagnosed?
If you think you may have experienced an ACL injury, seek out an urgent care facility or your primary care provider immediately. You may be referred to a sports medicine specialist in Houston for diagnosis and treatment.
In many cases, an ACL injury can be diagnosed from a physical examination. Your physician may be able to determine from swelling, range of motion, and overall function if your ACL has been injured. However, in some cases it may be necessary to have an x-ray, MRI, or ultrasound in order to rule out other possibilities.
What ACL injury treatments are available?
If you believe you may have sustained an ACL injury, practice R.I.C.E. immediately and seek out care. R.I.C.E. is a standard part of recovering from an ACL injury. Next, your Houston sports medicine physician may refer you to a rehabilitation specialist for physical therapy. A brace or crutches may also be prescribed to help stabilize the knee and keep weight off the joint.
Surgery may be a part of ACL injury treatment for certain populations, including:
- Young, active teens and adults
- Athletes who want to continue competing
- Patients who had multiple ligament or cartilage injuries
- Patients whose ACL injury is severely compromising knee stability in daily activities
Talk to your Houston orthopedic physician about whether or not ACL reconstruction is right for you.
Schedule With a Houston Sports Medicine Doctor
For more information about ACL injury and your treatment options, schedule an appointment with a Houston sports medicine physician. Call Houston Institute for Sports Medicine & Orthopedics at (713) 756-5546, or schedule your appointment online.
Please consult with your physician before undertaking any form of medical treatment or adopting any exercise program or dietary guidelines.