4 Signs of an ACL Tear

An ACL tear can be a debilitating injury that requires a long recovery time. This type of injury involves the overstretching or the tearing of the ACL, which is a grouping of tissues that connect your shinbone to your thigh bone. The tear can be partial or full, with athletes and children most often suffering this injury. It will often need some form of surgery.

Graphic showing Knee ACL anatomy

Knowing the signs that you may have an ACL tear can help you get prompt treatment, improving your chances of a full recovery. Renowned San Francisco orthopedic surgeon James Chen, MD, offers guidance on what you may experience if you have an ACL tear and how to get the help you need.

1. Hearing or Feeling a Pop

Most ACL tears are non-contact, meaning nothing hits the knee to cause the damage. To get an ACL tear, the knee must be in a certain position and receive a high degree of force.

When that occurs, you will likely hear or feel a pop immediately.

2. Extreme Pain or Swelling Soon After an Injury

Right after that pop, the pain will begin, usually accompanied by swelling. It may feel like your knee will buckle, which it generally will with a full or partial ACL tear, so try to sit down before you fall.

Moderate to severe pain is common. At first, it can feel sharp, but it gradually becomes more of an ache or throbbing as your knee swells.

Because blood rushes quickly to the knee, you can start experiencing swelling within an hour of the ACL tear. The severity of the tear will affect the degree of swelling. Some people with mild tears don’t start seeing any swelling for hours, which may allow them to keep putting pressure on the knee, ultimately causing more damage to the ligament.

The swelling can feel warmer than the rest of your body, and it may appear red.

3. Trouble Supporting Yourself or Bearing Weight

The ACL is the major knee stabilizer, so an injury will result in an inability of the knee to support your weight properly. It will give out or buckle if you try to walk.

One of the most common tests you can perform if you suspect a torn ACL is to bend the knee and see if the ligament prevents the tibia from shifting on the femur. If it doesn’t, then you likely have an ACL tear.

4. Bruising and Tenderness

The injury that causes an ACL tear can also lead to a deep bone bruise, which occurs when the ligaments tear, and your bones shift against each other. With an ACL tear, the bruise usually occurs on the lateral border of the bone. Most bone bruises are visible on an MRI.

The bruising can cause tenderness at the site.

Skilled ACL Repair from James Chen, MD

If you have had an ACL injury, getting prompt help is vital. In San Francisco, CA, you can turn to an experienced doctor like James Chen, MD. He offers many treatment options, including ACL repair and ACL reconstruction.

When you come to a consultation with Dr. Chen, you will receive a personalized treatment plan and a patient-centered approach to care. Dr. Chen utilizes some of the most advanced technologies to provide minimally-invasive arthroscopic procedures. His state-of-the-art facilities allow him to offer the care you can rely on.

He takes time with each patient, ensuring they understand the causes of the injury and the treatments available. If you have questions about the procedure or the results you can expect, Dr. Chen will have the answers.

If you have any of the signs of a torn ACL, getting prompt treatment is vital. Dr. Chen can offer diagnostics and can perform an ACL restoration or repair procedure so that you can regain knee function. His stellar patient testimonials will put you at ease. When you turn to Dr. Chen, you can rest assured you will receive quality care.

Call James Chen, MD, to learn more about the many orthopedic treatments he offers.


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