ACL Tear

ACL Tear Specialist
The anterior cruciate ligament, or ACL, is one of the most important components in the knees, keeping everything in the leg connected and stable. Injury to the ACL is common in active people and there are many successful treatments that will get you back up and moving again. Dr. William Burns of Craig Ranch Orthopaedics and Sports Medicine in Frisco, Texas, understands the complexity of the knee and works with you to achieve your goals as quickly and effectively as possible.

ACL Tear Q&A

by Dr. William C. Burns II

What is an ACL tear?

The anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) is a band of tissues in the knee that joins the thigh bone to the shin bone and helps stabilize the knee joint. Generally, there are three types of ACL injury:

  • Partial tear
  • Complete tear
  • Overextension -- no tearing

What causes an ACL tear?

ACL tears generally occur when the knee is wrenched in a way it is not designed for and frequently occurs during sports like skiing, soccer, basketball, or football, but can also happen during the course of normal day-to-day activities, such as falling off a ladder or climbing stairs.  Ultimately, any activity that involves the following movements can lead to an ACL injury:

  • Sudden stops and starts
  • Bending the knee backward
  • A twist in the knee -- the leg pivots while the foot stays stationary
  • A sideways bend or side-to-side movements
  • Jumping

Aging can also play a role -- as we age, these ligaments tend to weaken, increasing the chances for injury to the ACL.

How do I know if I have a tear?

There is rarely little doubt when it comes to knee injuries as the effects are often immediate and painful. With ACL tears, most people report:

  • A popping noise or sensation in the knee at the time of the injury
  • Sudden pain, made worse by movement
  • Swelling
  • Loss of strength in the knee -- it feels unstable and buckles

If you are experiencing any of the above, see Dr. Burns as soon as possible to determine the source of the problem and to get started on a treatment. Using the latest diagnostic tools, Dr. Burns will determine the extent of the injury and which course of action to take to get you moving freely again.

What are the treatments for an ACL injury?

Like most injuries, if you think you’ve injured your ACL, immediate attention is crucial while you wait to see the doctor. The common RICE model is best at stabilizing the area and preventing further damage:

  • Rest
  • Ice
  • Compression
  • Elevation

After Dr. Burns makes a full assessment of the injury, he determines what degree of intervention is required, which may include:

  • Limiting movement
  • Brace or crutches
  • Physical rehab
  • Reconstructive surgery

When recommending a treatment plan, Dr. Burns also takes into consideration your goals for getting back to physical activity.

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