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What is a Torn ACL? Answers from Advanced Orthopaedics & Sports Medicine of Houston

A torn ACL (anterior cruciate ligament) is a knee injury that is especially common among athletes but that can also affect individuals of all ages and activity levels. The ACL is one of four main ligaments in the knee. It runs diagonally across the knee, connecting the femur (the leg bone) to the tibia (the shin bone) and providing stability when the knee rotates.

Being bent or twisted in the wrong direction can cause the ACL to tear; so can being subjected to a sudden impact. It’s common for a torn ACL to be accompanied by other ligament damage, such as a torn MCL or PCL.

What does a torn ACL feel like?

If you tear your ACL, you’ll likely feel (and possibly hear) a sharp popping sensation in your knee. Pain and swelling are common and can occur immediately after the injury. Other torn ACL symptoms include:

  • A feeling of instability in the knee or an inability to place weight on it
  • Tenderness in the joint
  • A loss of range of motion

ACL injuries typically require immediate medical treatment. Attempting physical activity on a torn ACL can make the damage worse and complicate the healing process.

How do you treat a torn ACL?

If the ACL is only partially torn, it’s possible to treat it through conservative therapies, such as bracing, medication and physical therapy. In some instances, complete tears can also be rehabilitated without surgery, although surgical reconstruction is often necessary to restore full stability to the knee.

At Advanced Orthopaedics and Sports Medicine of Houston, Texas, we provide a comprehensive range of torn ACL treatments. Our knee injury specialists can evaluate your injury and help you determine the least invasive, most effective treatment options for your specific situation. We have a team of orthopedic physicians who exclusively treat knee injuries, such as torn ACLs, who can provide you with individualized recommendations. To learn more, contact us today.