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Anterior Cruciate Ligament (ACL) Tear
Ligament tear or sprain in the knee like ACL tears can be extremely painful, and cause the knee to become unstable. This means you can’t participate in sports, and even walking becomes difficult. It is important to seek care early, so the pain can be diagnosed, and treatment can begin immediately. ACL tears may or may not require surgery. In either case, physical therapy is the first choice to ensure strength, motion, and flexibility are restored to your knee joint. Contact a therapist at Polygon PT today.
What is an Anterior Cruciate Ligament (ACL) Tear?
ACL tear is one of the most common knee injuries. The anterior cruciate ligament is one of the four bands of tissue that connects your thighbone to your shinbone. Ligaments connect bone to bone. It runs diagonally in the middle of the knee and prevents the shinbone from sliding out in front of the thighbone. It also provides stability for the knee. Injury to the ACL usually happens during sports that require a lot of jumping, sudden stops, and landing such as in basketball, football and gymnastics.
Types of ACL Tears
Ligament injuries are called sprains, and sprains are classified in grades of 1,2, and 3.

Grade 1

In grade 1 ACL tears, the ligament is damaged, but still strong enough to keep the knee joint stable.

Grade 2

In grade 2 ACL tears, the ligament is partially torn. This is rare.

Grade 3

In grade 3 ACL tears, the ligament is split in two or torn completely, and can no longer provide stability to the knee joint.

Most ACL tears are in the grade 3 type.
Causes of ACL Tear
Injury to the anterior cruciate ligament can be caused by:

Landing from a jump incorrectly

Changing directions suddenly

Stopping suddenly

Shifting your weight suddenly from one leg to the other

Twisting your knee while your foot is planted on the ground

A direct hit or blow to the knee from a collision with another player

Slowing down while running

Female athletes have been found to be more prone to ACL tears than male athletes. This is proposed to be a result of differences in muscular strength, physical conditioning, and neuromuscular control. Other causes could be the impact of estrogen on ligaments and differences in how the pelvis and the legs are aligned.
Symptoms of ACL Tears
At the point of injury, you are likely to hear a popping sound as the ligament tears. Your knee might also give way and not be able to bear your weight. Other symptoms you will likely experience include:

Intense pain

Rapid swelling

Tenderness in the joint

Difficulty in walking

Limited range of motion

If you continue to use the knee after the tear, you might also risk injuring your meniscus (meniscus tear).
Anterior Cruciate Ligament (ACL) Tear Diagnosis
At Polygon PT, a therapist will evaluate your injured knee in comparison to the other one. By performing a physical examination on the injured know, your therapist will diagnose the ACL tear. Usually, imaging tests are not required. In some cases, your therapist will require you to undergo an X-ray or MRI (Magnetic Resonance Imaging) scan with your doctor.
Treatment for ACL Tears
Most ACL tears are treated with surgery. But in a case where your ACL tear was not accompanied by a feeling of your knee giving way, it is possible to heal without surgery. A therapist will create a treatment plan for you to promote healing, strength and restore mobility and function. If your ACL tear requires surgery, your therapist will work with you before and after surgery. A short rehab program might be required by your surgeon to decrease swelling, reduce pain and increase motion and strength. After the surgery, your therapist will create a custom treatment plan to suit your needs. Ice, compression, bracing, motion exercises, strengthening exercises, balancing exercises, and electrical stimulation can be used to gradually achieve flexibility and a full range of motion of the knee joint. Once you have recovered completely, you can get back to sports and normal activities. Recovery duration will vary from person-to-person. We will walk closely with your surgeon to ensure your ligament has healed completely, even though you must have stopped feeling the symptoms long ago.
Get Started With Physical Therapy for Anterior Cruciate Ligament (ACL) Tears Today
Physical therapy is not just effective for restoring strength and motion following an ACL tear, It’s also recommended for preventing ACL tears. If you are in a high-risk sport for ACL injury, prevention is better than cure. However, if you’re experiencing ACL tear symptoms, contact a physical therapist immediately. At Polygon PT, we derive satisfaction seeing you getting back to your activities better and stronger than before.