Anterior Cruciate Ligament Tear (ACL Tear) Overview
The anterior cruciate ligament, commonly known as the ACL, is considered the central stabilizing ligament of the knee joint. The ACL runs through the knee from the front of the shin bone (tibia) to the back of the thigh bone (femur) and prevents the shin bone from pivoting or sliding out in front of the thigh bone. An anterior cruciate ligament injury is quite common in the athletic community and can range from a simple strain to a complete ACL tear. Dr. Mark Getelman, knee specialist in Greater Los Angeles with offices located in Thousand Oaks and Van Nuys, specializes in returning patients to the activities they love following an ACL injury.
An ACL injury generally occurs during athletic activities that involve sudden changes in direction or stops. Both of these movements cause the knee to buckle and shift. An ACL tear can also occur from a blow or direct hit to the knee joint. Athletes involved in football, basketball, volleyball and skiing have an elevated risk of injuring the ACL. ACL injuries are reported in more women than men.
ACL Injury Symptoms
An anterior cruciate ligament injury commonly causes knee pain, swelling and limited range of motion. The symptoms will vary based on injury severity. Patients that experience a mild ACL injury may notice mild to moderate pain and swelling, as well as slight joint instability. In more severe cases involving an ACL tear, patients may experience an actual “pop” at the time of injury followed by swelling and instability.
ACL Injury Diagnosis
Dr. Getelman will perform a physical examination during a patient’s first consultation to reach a diagnosis. During the exam, he will assess the injured knee’s pain level, swelling and range of motion. He will also order a series of X-rays and most frequently an MRI to assess the extent of the soft tissue injury and to confirm the diagnosis.