As fall athletes return to the field after a period of isolation, excitement fills the air for sports like football and field hockey. However, the risk of an ACL tear looms over these activities, as they often lead to knee joint injuries. In fact, ACL tears account for 40% of all reported sports-related injuries. Whether you've experienced an ACL tear yourself or know someone who has, it's crucial to understand what the ACL is and how these injuries occur. At OAA Orthopedic Specialists, our board-certified, fellowship-trained sports medicine team aims to educate athletes about the risks they face and help them stay informed. Let's address some frequently asked questions about ACL tears and knee joint injuries., along with the answers that every fall athlete should know:

What’s an “ACL,” Exactly?

The 'ACL' where anterior cruciate ligament injuries occur is a vital ligament in your knee that connects the thigh bone to the shin bone, ensuring stability during various activities like walking, running, and impact. While engaging in athletic activities, the ACL works tirelessly to withstand stress. It is worth mentioning that injuries to the anterior cruciate ligament (ACL tears or torn ACL) are common, and they often require medical attention. Another ligament in the knee is the posterior cruciate ligament, and the medial collateral ligament also plays a role in knee stability.

When Do ACL Injuries Happen?

Your ACL, as well as the medial collateral ligament (MCL) and lateral collateral ligament (LCL), are resilient structures that can withstand substantial impact when properly stretched and exercised during sports training. However, certain game scenarios can lead to an anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) injury or a sprain. The following movements are most likely to result in an ACL injury:

  • Sudden changes in direction
  • Pivoting with one foot planted
  • Awkward landings from jumps
  • Abrupt stops
  • Direct hits to the knee, such as tackles or checks

Unfortunately, even with correct technique, these movements can occur accidentally in fall sports like football, field hockey, and soccer. It's important to be aware of the risk factors associated with most ACL tears and ensure proper preparation and training to minimize the chances of an anterior cruciate ligament injury.

How Do I Know I’ve Injured My ACL?

Soreness in the knee after a game is never a good sign, especially if you experience the following symptoms, which may indicate a serious knee injury, such as an anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) tear:

  • A loud, audible ‘pop’ or popping sensation in your knee
  • Severe knee pain and a decrease in your range of motion
  • Inability to bear weight on your affected knee
  • Inability to continue playing or even walking
  • Severe swelling in the affected knee

If you have any of these symptoms, it is important to seek medical attention as soon as possible. You may need to schedule an appointment with a sports medicine specialist who can provide further evaluation and discuss the possibility of anterior cruciate ligament reconstruction if necessary. You canschedule an appointment to see a specialist.

What Can You Do For My ACL Injury?

When it comes to ACL injuries, it's important to prioritize first aid to alleviate pain and swelling. Seeking medical attention from an orthopedic specialist is crucial for an accurate diagnosis and proper care. In some cases, a splint may be used to immobilize the knee, followed by rest and physical therapy for proper healing of the ligament. For more severe cases, ACL reconstruction surgery may be necessary. While ACL injuries can be common, they should not be taken lightly as they can cause significant pain and anxiety. If you've experienced such a serious injury, theSports Medicine Institute at OAA Orthopedic Specialists is dedicated to providing comprehensive and compassionate care. Our experienced physicians have helped athletes at all levels recover from complete ACL tear injuries and other related conditions, ensuring a return to full range of motion and eliminating chronic pain.

If you’ve been injured, the experienced, compassionate physicians at OAA will work with you to get you back to the game you love as quickly and effectively as possible. If you’re ready to start living pain-free, schedule an appointment with us today.