An ACL injury is a sprain or a tear in the anterior cruciate ligament, a major ligament in your knee. It’s common to sustain this injury during sporting activities, particularly those involving sudden stops, jumps, rough landings, and changes in direction.
At Next Step Orthopedics, Dr. Dominique Nickson is highly skilled in treating sports injuries and in rehabilitating athletes so you can return to your regular sporting activities.
Tearing your ACL
An ACL tear usually happens during an athletic activity and requires immediate medical attention. You may hear a popping sound or feel a popping in your knee when the ligament tears. Other symptoms include:
- Quick swelling
- Impaired range of motion
- Inability to bear weight — feeling that your knee is “giving way”
- Severe pain
Improper footwear, poorly maintained sporting equipment, and poor conditioning and stretching all heighten your risk of sustaining an ACL injury. Certain sports like soccer, football, gymnastics, basketball, and downhill skiing raise your risk, as well. Also, women are more likely to sustain an ACL injury, likely due to the differences in anatomy, muscle strength, and hormonal factors.
Treating an ACL tear
There are a couple of different ways to treat an ACL tear. If the injury is treatable without surgery, we may recommend that you wear a brace and use crutches to avoid putting weight on the knee.
We then add regular physical rehabilitation appointments, which strengthen the knee and reduce pain and swelling. The goal with physical therapy is also to restore your full range of motion.
More severe injuries could lead us to opt for surgical treatments. Surgery is particularly helpful for athletes who want to continue their athletic careers.
Surgery for treating an ACL tear involves replacing the damaged ligament with a section of tendon from your body. A tendon is a kind of tissue that connects muscle to bone.
Returning to sports after an ACL tear
While there is no predetermined time frame for athletes to return to playing after an ACL injury, it normally takes at least a year for athletes to safely resume playing sports. The longer your recovery time, the better your chances of staying healthy, as up to one-third of athletes who resume playing experience another tear in the opposite knee within a period of two years.
As an orthopedic surgeon, Dr. Nickson is skilled in treating athletes with complex injuries and helping them return to their regular physical activities. If you’ve injured your ACL injury and want to return to your regular sporting activities, call us at (972) 547-0047 or book an appointment online.