Getting Back into Sports After an ACL Tear

Your ACL, or anterior cruciate ligament, is a key ligament in your knee. This is easy to damage if you play sports. Considering that it can also take you as long as a year to resume playing sports after an ACL injury, you can see how serious this condition is if you’re an athlete. 

ACL tears are fairly common, with about 100,000 to 200,000 cases reported per year in the United States. Because they occur so often in athletes, it’s especially important for those who play sports to learn just what an ACL tear is and how to navigate life following an injury.

Our skilled physicians at Orthocenter have compiled this guide to help you not only recognize the signs and symptoms of an ACL tear, but also learn what the best treatments are so that you can fully recover and get back into sports. 

What an ACL tear is

Your ACL is an important ligament in your knee that connects your thigh bone (femur) to your shinbone (tibia). Since it rests at such a crucial point, tearing it can lead to serious problems with your balance and mobility.

ACL injuries are common in sports that require a lot of sudden stops, turns, and high-impact movements. Unfortunately, due to differences in strength and physical structure, women are far more likely to tear an ACL. 

Signs of an ACL tear

The biggest indicator of an ACL tear is a popping sensation in your knee. Your knee may also feel swollen, unstable, or like it threatens to give way. It may also be too stiff to perform its usual range of motion.

How we treat an ACL tear

There are a couple of different treatment options for ACL tears. After performing a physical exam that typically includes X-rays, MRI scans, or ultrasounds, we can then determine if you do have an ACL tear. From there, we consider a couple of different treatment options, depending on the severity of your injury. 

If your injury can be resolved without surgery, then you can recover after weeks of physical therapy as well as the use of a brace, crutches, or other corrective devices. However, if therapy cannot repair your injury, then we resort to surgery. 

During surgery, we can reconstruct the damaged ligament by doing a graft, which utilizes a piece of a tendon from elsewhere in your body. You’ll still need time to recover and do physical therapy afterward to restore your full strength and range of motion.  

Returning to sports after an ACL tear

If you follow your post-op instructions and maintain a healthy lifestyle, you can expect a full recovery and will give yourself the best chance of returning to your normal sporting activities. 

You’ll also want to maintain regular appointments with our team as well as your physical therapist, do any at-home exercises that your physical therapist recommends, and take all medications as they’re prescribed. Finally, you’ll need to maintain a healthy lifestyle, including proper rest and nutrition. 

To ensure the best chance of recovery, be sure to keep us updated on your progress — not to mention any new symptoms or signs of discomfort that may arise.

Treat your ACL tear today

At Orthocenter, our dedicated doctors provide you with the best in orthopedic care. Whether you’re an athlete or not, we can help you fully recover after an ACL tear and return to your usual daily activities. 

Start treating your ACL injury today by giving us a call or booking an appointment right here on our website.

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