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ACL Injury- Do You Need Surgery?

Updated on 10 October 2022

ACL is the abbreviation used for the anterior cruciate ligament. These are the Ligaments that hold the bones inside the knee. The ACL gets torn if you make a quick movement or make a sharp, sudden turn while jumping or running. The injury thus caused is very painful and hurts while walking or by putting pressure on the leg.  It can occur while playing sports or doing gymnastics. Knees can get twisted when the directions are abruptly changed stretching and tearing your ACL.

Signs & Symptoms of ACL Injury

The symptoms include,

  • A popping sound in the knee, at the time when the injury is caused.
  • There shall be no pain if the injury is not substantial, but the knee’s joint line may feel sore. 
  • Pain is felt while standing or putting pressure on the hurt knee. 
  • Swelling occurs within the first 24 hours. 
  • It becomes difficult to walk.
  • The normal functioning of the leg is impaired. Bending or stretching becomes hurtful.
  • Feeling of joint giving away while downstairs/slope.

Diagnosis of ACL Injury

The doctor from the best orthopaedic & physiotherapy hospitals in India may ask you questions to know about how and when the injury occurred. The injured knee is compared with the other one to check the level of soreness. You are told to lay on your back and the leg is moved or shifted slowly in different directions to find out the abnormality. The tests that are done to find out the possibility of an ACL injury include the following,

  • X-ray- Injury to ACL is not shown by an X-ray report, but the doctor may want to look for any other kind of injury to the knee and prescribe you an X-ray. 
  • MRI/Ultrasound- These reports will show the injury to the ACL. 
  • Arthroscopy (keyhole surgery)- This test helps to know what’s inside the joint. With the help of arthroscopy, the doctor is able to look within the knee by making a cut and inserting a pencil-sized camera tool. The further steps to correct the injured knee become easier by performing this procedure.

Types of ACL Injuries

ACL injuries are divided into grades 1, 2 and 3 types of injuries.

  • Grade 1: Mild injuries fall under this category. However, to regain stability treatment is required for grade 1 injuries. 
  • Grade 2: When the ACL is partially torn or stretched grade 2 which is a rare kind of injury that occurs. 
  • Grade 3: The grade 3 type is about the injuries that tear the ACL in half and the knee completely loses stability.

Treatment of ACL Injury

The surgery might not be required in all cases. The treatment will be different from case to case depending upon the damage. So, to keep your joints healthy, you must maintain the following methods,

  • First Aid: Minor injuries can be treated by applying an ice pack, resting, and elevating the leg with the help of a pillow. Crutches are useful to avoid pressure on your knee. 
  • Medicines: The doctor prescribes medicines to give you relief from the pain. They are usually anti-inflammatory medicines. A higher dose or injections are given if the injury is more intense or painful.
  • Knee Braces: Wearing a knee brace can provide support if you want to move your leg very often like in sports.
  • Physiotherapy: It takes time to get your muscles back in order with the help of physiotherapy. But it gives relief and makes the muscles stronger by doing some exercises. The therapy is divided into sessions that the patient has to follow regularly. The frequency of physical therapy is usually on a daily basis and might take weeks to completely repair the injury. 
  • Surgical Methods: Usually a person with instability, a sports person & athlete is advised to undergo surgery. The ligament can be replaced and within a year time, the patient can start playing. Physiotherapy is recommended after the surgery. The surgeries are mainly of three types, namely Autograft, Allograft, and Synthetic Graft.

Conclusion

Bones and ligaments are important for the body to perform movements. Any bone-related or muscular injury results in painful episodes that take longer to repair and completely make the patient trouble-free. ACL is a type of injury that may or may not need surgical intervention. With the help of non-surgical methods, it can be treatable in some cases.

Consulting the doctor at the right time will prevent further damage to the injured knee. It is better to know the reason behind the knee pain which only an orthopaedic medical practitioner can diagnose. Avoiding any kind of self-diagnosis and following the doctor’s instructions are the correct ways to repair the damage. 

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