Expert Care for ACL Tear
Fellowship-trained sports medicine surgeons at University Hospitals offer comprehensive medical and reconstruction services for patients with a torn ACL (anterior cruciate ligament). The ACL is one of the most commonly injured ligaments of the knee. Using a systematic approach to diagnostics, treatment and recovery management, our team helps athletes of every skill level get back to their sport quickly and efficiently.
Comprehensive Diagnostics for an ACL Injury
Our team of sports medicine physicians have a range of diagnostic tools at University Hospitals for the accurate diagnosis of any sports injury, including ACL tears. We may use the following tests for the diagnosis of an ACL injury:
- Knee arthrograms: A radiologic procedure that can help determine problems in your joint capsule, ligaments cartilage and bones in the joint.
- Lachman's test: A clinical test used to diagnose ACL injuries and to determine if the ligament is still intact.
- Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI): Can show small tears and areas of tendon, ligament, cartilage or other muscle injury.
- Ultrasound: Using radio waves, this test can be used to show the extent of an ACL injury as well as other tissues in the knee.
- X-rays: Can be used to rule out fractures.
Minimally Invasive ACL Reconstruction
Most high-level athletes opt for ACL reconstruction surgery. In many cases, an ACL injury doesn’t heal itself and surgery for ligament reconstruction is necessary. If patients choose to have surgery, our orthopaedic surgeons and sports medicine doctors discuss all aspects of treatment for optimal ACL surgery recovery. We know how important it is to get back in the game as our sports medicine specialists are the team physicians for the Cleveland Browns, but your long-term recovery is always our primary goal.
During surgery, the torn ACL is replaced by a substitute graft made of the hamstring tendon or other tissue so new ligament tissue can grow. A successful ACL surgery paired with a carefully constructed rehabilitation plan can restore knee function and stability, though it can take eight to 12 months before a patient completely heals and returns to their sport or normal routine.
Non-surgical Treatment Options for ACL Tear
With more minor ACL tears, after an accurate diagnosis and assessment of the severity of your injury, our knee experts can begin non-surgical treatment options. We educate patients on the importance of injury management, which may include RICE therapy:
- Compression of the injured knee
- Elevation of the affected lower extremity
If ACL reconstruction surgery isn’t warranted, patients are referred to our licensed physical therapists or certified athletic trainers for rehabilitation. Our sports medicine physicians are in close communication with our patients and are available on site to review their progress during sports medicine physical therapy sessions.
Understanding the Risk Factors for ACL Tear
In general, the occurrence of an ACL sprain or torn ACL injury is greater in people who participate in sports such as basketball, football, skiing or soccer. For those who aren’t as active, an ACL tear can be caused by a quick change in direction while running, jumping or turning, incorrectly landing from a jump or stopping suddenly. Women are actually at a higher risk for an ACL injury due to strength, anatomy, genetics and jumping and landing patterns. Other risk factors for an ACL tear include:
- Effects of estrogen
- Factors such as footwear and field surface
- Improper biomechanics
- Increased knee joint or hamstring weakness
- Higher body mass index (BMI)
- Muscle fatigue