Understanding the Different Types of ACL Injuries

Your anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) is an important component when it comes to keeping your knee stable. Injuries of this tough, fibrous ligament are common, especially in adolescent athletes, although anyone can hurt their ACL under the right conditions.

The expert providers at Orthocenter have treated thousands of ACL injuries, and regardless of the severity of your injury, we can develop a plan to help you recover. 

Because your ACL performs a critical function in your knee joint, it’s important to get proper care from someone with deep expertise, such as the doctors at Orthocenter.

The structure of your knee

Your knee is an amazing joint, allowing you to walk, sit in a chair, jump, and make all sorts of other movements you probably don’t think about before you do them. 

Your knee joint is made up of three bones: your femur (thighbone), your tibia (shinbone), and your patella (kneecap). Your femur is the largest bone in your body, and your tibia supports the weight of your whole body. Your kneecap acts like a tiny shield to protect your joint.

Of course, those bones have help in working together. They are connected by ligaments, which are made from amazingly tough, fibrous tissue. They give and stretch, but they’re also tough enough to withstand running, jumping and other movements.

Your cruciate ligaments are inside your knee joint, and they cross over each other, forming an X. Your anterior cruciate ligament is in the front of the X, and your posterior cruciate ligament is in the back. 

Together these two ligaments control the back-and-forth motion of your joint. Additionally, your ACL holds your tibia in place and allows your knee to rotate with stability.

How the ACL gets injured

Your ACL can be injured or torn in several different ways. Since the ligament is responsible for rotational stability, one of the most common ways it’s injured is when you pivot suddenly. ACL tears are common in sports like football, basketball, and soccer, which require sharp cutting and pivoting.

An ACL injury may be called a tear or a sprain. The ligament can be stretched, partially torn, or fully torn. You may hear a popping or snapping sound when the injury happens. 

Most of the time, your knee will immediately begin to swell, and you may not be able to put weight on it — although it’s possible to have an injured ACL but not feel much or any pain.

Grades of ACL injuries

ACL injuries are classified as Grade 1, Grade 2, or Grade 3. Adolescents may have a tibial spine avulsion ACL injury, in which the ACL isn’t torn, but the part of it that attaches to the tibia is torn off. This injury can cause instability and weakness in the knee joint without proper treatment.

In a Grade 1 injury, your ACL is stretched and endures mild damage. A Grade 2 injury, which is sometimes called a partial tear is actually quite rare, and a Grade 3 injury is a complete or nearly complete tear of the ACL. 

Grade 1 injuries can be treated with immobilization, bracing, and physical therapy. Grade 3 injuries require surgery to reattach the torn parts of your ligament. Depending on your age, your activity level, and many other factors, the exact type of surgery may vary. 

If you’ve injured your ACL, don’t put off getting treatment, even if the pain isn’t terrible. Your mobility and stability require a healthy ACL. 

You can schedule an appointment at any of the three convenient Orthocenter offices in Red Bank, Morganville, or Holmdel, New Jersey by calling or sending the team a message here on the website. 

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