Diagnosis and Repair of Torn ACL Injuries in NYC

The ACL (anterior cruciate ligament) is one of several ligaments that make up the complex framework supporting and stabilizing the knee. These tissues are particularly vulnerable to injury, which often occurs during sports-related activities. Any traumatic injury involving a direct impact to the knee can result in an ACL rupture. However, most ACL tears are non-contact injuries and result from the knee pivoting against a planted foot, as seen in many sports to achieve a quick change of direction.

A torn ACL can be a very painful injury that seriously impairs your ability to perform daily activities and impacts your quality of life. Fellowship-trained orthopedic surgeon Dr. Benjamin Bedford is a top ACL repair surgeon in New York who frequently sees patients who have suffered from this type of injury and require ACL reconstruction. Here’s an overview of the symptoms and treatment options for a torn ACL.

 

What are the symptoms of a torn ACL?

A torn ACL has four distinct symptoms:

  • A “popping” sound or feeling – When the ligament tears, you may hear or feel a “pop” in your knee. It’s a very distinct sound and feeling.
  • Sudden, intense pain in the injured knee – The “pop” is usually followed by a sudden, intense searing or burning pain in the knee.
  • Swelling of the affected knee – Blood and other fluids flowing in and around the injury cause obvious swelling. Swelling usually starts almost immediately and the knee may continue to swell for five or six hours.
  • Inability to flex or extend the joint – If you’ve torn your ACL, you typically aren’t able to bend or straighten the knee completely, and you probably won’t be able to put weight on it without severe pain. The knee may collapse or “give-way” if you attempt to put weight on it.

 

How is a torn ACL diagnosed?

Diagnosis of any injury to the knee begins with finding out how the injury occurred. Dr. Bedford will perform a thorough physical exam to assess the stability of the joint.

There are several maneuvers used to test the stability and integrity of the ACL, including the anterior drawer test, the Lachman’s test, and the pivot shift test. Each test is used to determine whether the connection between the femur (the thigh bone) and tibia (the larger of the two lower leg bones) is loose due to a torn ACL. A physical exam is helpful for assessing other structures of the knee that may also be damaged.

 

What are the treatment options to repair an ACL tear?

In most cases, torn ACLs, unlike other torn ligaments, don’t heal well on their own. However, there are some cases where conservative (non-surgical) treatments may be the most appropriate treatment option for an ACL injury.

For those patients with active lifestyles, including athletes and younger patients, ACL reconstruction surgery is usually the best treatment option for a torn ACL. This surgery involves replacing the damaged ligament with tendon from another part of the body in a procedure called a tendon graft. Surgery may safely be performed immediately after the injury if the patient has full knee extension. However, it often needs to be postponed several weeks to allow time for the initial swelling to subside and knee range of motion to improve.

 

Where can I find treatment for my torn ACL in New York?

If you’ve sustained a torn ACL, it’s important to consult an experienced ACL repair surgeon who can evaluate your injury and explain your treatment options. Dr. Benjamin Bedford specializes in the treatment of all sports-related knee injuries as well as arthroscopic and open treatment of the knee. If you’re considering surgery for a torn ACL, schedule a consultation with Dr. Benjamin Bedford at NY Orthopedics today.

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Dr. Jose Rodriguez is no longer practicing at New York Orthopedics as of March 31, 2017. For a full list of our doctors, please visit this page.