knee brace

Anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) injuries and tears often happen in high-risk sports such as soccer, basketball, football, and skiing. This type of knee injury is painful and often requires surgery to repair the damage to the ACL. If you injure your ACL, you’ll know it.

ACL Tear or Injury Symptoms

If you tear or damage your ACL, you may experience:

  • A popping sound
  • Your knee giving out from under you
  • Pain and swelling
  • Reduced range of motion in the knee
  • Pain or discomfort when walking

It’s best to seek treatment for an ACL injury within an hour to have the best chance of reducing further damage to your knee. With any knee injury, you need to rest until fully healed.

ACL Injury Treatment Options

Treatment for ACL injuries range from nonsurgical interventions, such as braces, to ACL reconstruction surgery. Treatment plans depend on the patient’s:

  • Age
  • Activity level
  • Degree of injury

For minor injuries, protective braces and physical therapy to strengthen the muscles around the knee may be enough. You will need to:

  • Apply ice to the knee several times a day
  • Keep the knee elevated
  • Reduce activity for a few weeks at least

A full ACL tear will not heal on its own. If you want to continue in high-risk sports or an active lifestyle, surgical repair is the best option. In ACL reconstruction surgery, the ligament is rebuilt using tissue from your own body or from a donor.

Without surgery, your knee may be unstable and increase your risk for future injuries.

ACL Rehabilitation and Recovery

Physical therapy is an important part of recovering from an ACL tear or injury. You can perform ACL injury exercises on your own at a gym, or you may want to enroll in a sports medicine program designed for ACL injuries. This is a vital step to getting you back on the field.

Do you have questions about sports-related injuries? Schedule an appointment to speak with an experts at the UPMC Sports Medicine online or call 1-855-93-SPORT (77678).