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5 Signs of an ACL Injury

5 Signs of an ACL Injury

To call your knees major joints seems like an understatement given all they take on in terms of support and mobility. When something goes wrong in one of these large joints, the impact can be great, and you want to get to the bottom of the problem so you can regain full function again.

One of the more common problems, especially if you’re active, is damage to your anterior cruciate ligament (ACL). To help you determine whether you might be dealing with an ACL tear, William Schell, MD, and our team want to take this opportunity to outline five signs of the problem.

1. A popping noise or giving out

When people tear their ACL, which typically happens when they suddenly change direction or stop abruptly, many report an audible popping noise, which indicates that the ligament has torn.

If you don’t hear the sound, you may “feel” the pop inside your knee or you may feel like your knee is suddenly giving way.

2. Pain and swelling

Like any injury, an ACL tear can be painful, and the knee pain usually comes on very quickly after the injury. Within 24 hours, your knee will also swell, which is why we recommend the RICE method — rest, ice, compression, and elevation — immediately after your injury.

3. Difficulty moving around

If, during the early days after your knee injury, you find it difficult to bear weight on the joint and move around, this is a clear sign that there’s damage in your knee. 

4. Loss of range of motion

Even if you can bear weight on your injured knee, if you find some movements more difficult than others, the chances are good that there’s ligament damage inside your knee

5. Instability in the knee

If you injure your knee and weather the initial pain and swelling without treatment, you may return to your activity of choice, only to find that your knee is less than reliable.

Each of your knees contains two cruciate ligaments that form an X inside the knee — with your anterior cruciate ligament in front and your posterior ligament in back. These ligaments are part of a larger network of soft tissues that stabilizes your knee. 

Your ACL facilitates back and forth movement in your knee, gives it rotational stability, and prevents your tibia from sliding out in front of your femur.

If there’s unresolved damage in your ACL, your knee won’t be as stable as it was before and can “give out” more easily.

If any of these signs or scenarios sound familiar, we urge you to come see us as soon as possible. There’s great risk in not getting the treatment you need for an ACL tear, such as further damage in your knee, namely to your meniscus.

To get on the road back to great knee health, contact our New York City office, on Columbia CIrcle on the Upper West Side, to set up an appointment.

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