ACL tears happen frequently among athletes, but it is also common to also tear your ACL by simply twisting or stepping the wrong way. When it’s time for surgery, you need a leading orthopaedic surgeon on your side. Frank Petrigliano, MD, of the USC Epstein Family Center for Sports Medicine, Los Angeles, California, specializes in knee injuries. Dr. Petrigliano will diagnose, treat you and use the most modern surgical procedures to reconstruct your ACL. After minimally invasive procedure and rehabilitation, there is an excellent chance you can return to the activities you enjoy.
Your anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) is one of your major knee ligaments, located right in the center of your knee. It can tear when you stop too quickly, have a poor landing after a jump, or change direction with your feet planted.
A torn ACL is a common injury among athletes, particularly basketball, soccer, football, and tennis players. These are just some sports in which you have to run forward, but then may come to an abrupt stop, or change direction, causing the tear.
Likely, yes. When it happens, you’ll probably feel or hear a pop in your knee. Shortly afterwards, your knee starts swelling. You might notice that your knee feels unstable, gives way easily, or causes pain that is so severe you can’t put weight on it. Losing range of motion is another typical complaint.
Dr. Petrigliano compares your injured knee to your healthy knee. He looks for signs of swelling and tenderness, while moving your leg around to check your knee mobility. While he usually can tell right away if you have a torn ACL, he needs imaging to determine the severity of your injury. This probably requires X-rays or an ultrasound in the office. In some cases, Dr. Petrigliano orders more detailed imaging, like an Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), to get a better look inside your knee.
It depends on the severity of your injury. But in general, Dr. Petrigliano will wait to do any surgical procedure until the swelling goes down and you get some of your range of motion back. Then he can tell if surgery is needed.
If your ACL is torn, reconstruction surgery is performed. Dr. Petrigliano removes your damaged ligament and replaces it with tendon. This tissue graft can come from the patellar tendon in your knee, your hamstring or your quadricep tendon. The new graft from your tendon creates an area where new ligament tissue can grow, allowing your ACL to heal completely and regain function over time.
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