Anterior Cruciate Ligament (ACL) Tear

An ACL tear is a rupture of the fibrous tissue connecting the thighbone (femur) to the shinbone (tibia).

Cause

ACL injuries occur when bones of the leg twist in opposite directions under full body weight.

Classification

Injured ligaments are considered "sprains" and are graded on a severity scale 

Grade 1

Grade 2

Grade 3

Risk Factors

ACL tears are mostly seen in high-intensity dynamic sports that consist of:

  • Change of direction 

  • Deceleration 

  • Jumping and landing

  • Contact or collisions

Signs and Symptoms

Complete ACL tears usually result in a loud "pop" at the time of injury followed by rapid swelling and severe pain that diminishes over time.

Diagnosis

A comprehensive physical exam is done in clinic. The exam consists of tests that measure the stability and strength of the knee joint.

If the findings on the physical exam are indicative of an ACL tear a Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) may be ordered for further evaluation

Treatment

A torn ACL will not heal without surgery. To repair the ACL and restore knee stability, the ligament must be surgically reconstructed.

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Ortho.Boston is a private Orthopedic Surgery practice located in Needham Heights, MA.

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