A tear of the anterior cruciate ligament can be suspected if most of these features are present:
- Patients with a torn ACL generally recall the moment that the ACL gave out. Although the injury may be a contact or a non-contact injury, it usually involves a twisting of the femur bone and tibia bone in relation to one another.
- As the ACL snaps apart during the injury, very often the patient hears a loud “pop” which may even be heard by others nearby.
- If it is the ACL that is torn, usually the patient is unable to go on with the activity.
- Because the ACL has blood vessels in it, usually the knee swells up with blood.
An ACL tear is not a medical emergency. Although the injury is a serious one, the early management is relatively uncomplicated. If the skin is not damaged in the injury and pain and swelling are not too severe, The Sanders Clinic for Orthopedic Surgery and Sports Medicine recommends the RICE regimen for the first few days. That includes: rest, ice, compression, and elevation. If the pain and swelling are severe, then it is possible that there is tense blood within the knee cavity (haemarthrosis) and a visit to a local emergency room unit is recommended. The doctor there may chose to aspirate the blood (suck it out with a syringe and needle), a procedure that can give considerable relief.
When the knee is painful and swollen it is difficult for any orthopedic surgeon to fully examine and evaluate the knee. Once the injury has settled down, maybe after a week or so, then it is much easier to examine and determine the full extent of the injury. At that point in time contact the Sanders clinic at 1-888-8 DR MARK for a full evaluation and exam.