A tear in the anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) in your knee can lead to symptoms of pain, swelling, and an often debilitating feeling of instability.
ACL tears are caused by a forceful twisting action – when you will feel sudden, severe pain and may even hear a popping sound.
If you suspect an anterior cruciate ligament tear or any other knee injury, you should seek specialist medical advice as soon as possible.
Headed by orthopaedic surgeon, Simon Moyes, the Capital Orthopaedics team brings leading-edge clinical expertise to diagnosing and treating anterior cruciate ligament injuries.
The Capital Orthopaedics team operates out of three central London locations, and offers a fast and highly effective process from initial consultation to treatment, rehabilitation and return to activity.
Your knee is a hinge joint connecting your thigh bone with your lower leg bones. The joint is stabilised by four tough bands of connective tissue called ligaments, one of which is the anterior cruciate ligament.
The ACL is one of two thick ligaments that run through the middle of your knee joint, connecting the shinbone (fibula) to the thigh bone (femur).
If your knee is twisted forcefully, the ACL can become partially torn or completely ruptured. A rupture can also involve a piece of bone breaking away at the anchor point of the ligament – known as an avulsion fracture.
An ACL tear can also be associated with other knee injuries, including damage to the cartilage that coats the bones, torn meniscus cartilage and, over time, osteoarthritis.
If you have torn your ACL, you are likely to experience:
The anterior cruciate ligament is most often torn during activities that involve:
Any active person can suffer from a torn ACL, but some common sports include: basketball, tennis, skiing, rock climbing, football and gymnastics.
A torn ACL diagnosis is confirmed with an MRI scan and sometimes an x-ray to review any associated bone damage.
Depending on the severity of the tear, we offer our patients the following treatment options:
In some cases – such as a partial tear, if you are relatively inactive or you participate in sports that don’t stress the knees – a torn ACL can be treated without surgery.
Physiotherapy: you may need to wear a knee brace and use crutches until your knee has stabilised. Our expert physiotherapists will give you exercises that focus on strengthening the muscles and increasing mobility in your knee.
Anti-inflammatories: symptoms of pain and swelling can be minimised using anti-inflammatory medication (NSAIDs).
Injections: we offer injection therapy to stimulate healing.
Our orthopaedic surgeons may recommend anterior cruciate ligament repair if:
ACL repair can involve fixing the torn ligament back in place. An ACL reconstruction involves replacing the damaged ligament with a graft tendon from another part of your body or from a donor.
Most ACL operations are carried out using arthroscopic (keyhole) surgery, ensuring quicker healing and recovery times.
You will be able to weight bear immediately after the surgery, but it can be between 6-12 months before you can return to sports without risk of re-injury.
Our team of highly experienced orthopaedic surgeons, in-house radiologists, physiotherapists and sports medicine professionals are dedicated to getting you back on your feet and back to optimum fitness in the quickest time possible.
Based in three central London locations, Capital Orthopaedics offers patients sophisticated diagnostics, cutting edge surgical techniques and injection therapies, and bespoke physiotherapy plans.
The bones in your knee joint are coated with a slippery layer of cartilage that helps with smooth movement. Articular cartilage can get damaged as a result of wear and tear or a traumatic injury – a forceful twisting or impact. Cartilage damage can lead to instability, pain, swelling and osteoarthritis.
The two rubbery pads of cartilage in your knee joint (menisci) provide shock absorption and aid movement. They can get torn as a result of wear and tear, or an injury such as forceful twisting or an impact.
The tendons in your knee can get damaged as a result of twisting or a repetitive action such as running. It leads to pain, swelling and a loss of range of movement.
Repeated actions, a major impact or general wear and tear over time can lead to the cartilage wearing away, exposing the bones in the joint. These rough surfaces and resulting bone spurs cause pain, stiffness and swelling in your knee.
Pain in the front of your knee can be caused by a number of conditions. If you have ongoing pain and loss of range of movement, get in touch with Capital Orthopaedics today for an in-depth diagnosis and treatment plan.
An ACL tear cannot heal its own, but physical therapy can help to strengthen the muscles around your knee to improve stability and range of motion. However, most athletes require surgery if they want to carry on with their sports.
An ACL tear is diagnosed with a physical examination and history of how the injury occurred, followed by MRI or ultrasound to assess extent of soft tissue damage. An x-ray is sometimes used to rule out bone fractures.
If the ligament is completely ruptured, it may be necessary to replace it with a tendon from another part of your body or from a donor.
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