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A Guide to the Most Common ACL Questions

A Guide to the Most Common ACL Questions

| Health, Advice, ACL, Knee

Jumping, landing or suddenly changing direction can result in a torn ACL. So, what happens when you are doing a favorite activity and you feel a sudden pain in your knee? Methodist Sports Medicine physician, Mark Ritter, sat down and explained some of the most frequently asked questions. Take a look below to learn more about this injury.

What athletes experience ACL tears the most?
MR:  There isn’t necessarily a specific sport that leads to a torn ACL, but rather any sport that involves cutting, changing direction, explosive moves, twisting or turning. I’ve seen plenty of ACL tears in non-contact sports such as soccer and lacrosse, however, football-related ACL tears are the most common in a contact-related sport.

Are there certain age groups that are prone to ACL injuries?
MR: A common age range for an ACL tear is teenagers to 30-years-old. This is due to the activities of the population in that age range. However, it is still possible for anyone above the age of 30 to suffer an ACL related injury.

How important is it to strengthen your knee?
MR: Again, nothing can completely prevent an ACL tear, but I always encourage individuals to strengthen the muscles around their knees to help protect against a tear. For athletes specifically, it’s important to observe and correct your form when you’re landing or cutting. By being aware of your movements, you can take proactive steps for a healthy ACL.

Why do most people get an MRI?
MR: Surgeons want to see an MRI to confirm the ACL tear and evaluate the other soft tissue structures in the knee before undergoing a reconstruction. Cartilage coats the ends of the bones and menisci are the shock absorbers in the knee.  Both can be damaged when the ACL tears.  Occasionally, the torn piece of meniscus is flipped out of place, which causes a locked knee. In this instance, there would be more urgency to undergo an operation.

Is ACL surgery an emergency?
MR: Typically, it’s best to work with physical therapy (ACL Pre-hab) to allow for the soft tissue swelling to resolve, and more importantly regain knee motion. Displaced meniscus tears can make surgery more urgent, but regaining motion prior to surgery can make the recovery after surgery better/faster.

What is a typical surgical reconstruction approach?
MR: There are several different graft options to reconstruct the ACL. I allow my patients to choose how they want to handle the problem. My approach, with any orthopedic issue, is to educate the patient on the problem and all of their surgical and non-surgical options. There are plenty of pros and cons to any choice, however, every Methodist Sports Medicine physician works with their patient to ensure the best outcome.

What is the future for ACL repairs?
MR: Over the years, surgeons have improved the ACL surgical techniques, making the surgery less invasive and placing the ACL more precisely in the knee. Moving forward, new improvements including robotics or biologics, like stem cells, can hopefully speed recovery, enhance healing, and improve longevity.

Injuries are never fun, and while you can’t 100% prevent a torn ACL, you don’t have to worry about where to go for the best care. Methodist Sports Medicine is committed to you and your medical needs. From a torn ACL to an orthopedic concern, request an appointment today!