Approximately one-third of all knee injuries occur due to tears of the anterior cruciate ligament. During intense sports activities, your ACL can tear, resulting in a painful buckling of your knee. Occasionally, an ACL tear can cause your knee to pop out of the joint and cause your leg to give way. Symptoms include knee pain, swelling, and joint instability which makes it difficult to move and the range of motion is limited. Located in the inside of the knee, the ACL (anterior cruciate ligament) provides protection. Stretching or tearing it causes it to be damaged. The ACL can be injured during sports since they require a lot of movement that can put stress on the knee

At WeCare Medical Specialty Group, our orthopedic surgeons specialize in reconstructing torn ACLs. We have clinical offices in Bergen County, Hudson County, Bergen County, Union County, Passaic County, and Middlesex County, with convenient locations and flexible office hours to meet our patients’ needs.

What Causes an ACL Tear?

The anterior cruciate ligament can be injured due to the following:

  • A rapid change of direction
  • A collision such as a football tackle
  • Pulling up suddenly
  • Slowing down suddenly
  • Landing poorly following a jump

The knees consist of a combination of bones, tendons, and ligaments. Located on the inside of your knee, the anterior cruciate ligament helps control your forward and backward movements.

Sprained ligaments may stretch to the point that they tear partially so that the knee joint is loose, or they may tear completely so that the knee joint is unstable. It is common for ACLs to be completely torn.

When to see a doctor

Those who have suffered an ACL injury are more likely to develop knee osteoarthritis. Even if the ligaments are reconstructed, you may develop arthritis. Arthritis can be caused by various factors, including the severity of the initial injury, the presence of related injuries in the knee joint, and the level of activity following treatment.

The symptoms of an ACL injury need to be treated immediately if you sustain an injury to your knee. In order for the knee joint to function, bones, ligaments, tendons, and other tissues must work together as one unit. To determine the severity of an injury and get the proper treatment, it is important to get an accurate diagnosis as soon as possible.

How Is an ACL Tear Diagnosed and Treated?

A comparison of the injured and uninjured limbs will be performed after examining your knee. Most of the time, we can diagnose an ACL tear during the examination. However, we may order additional imaging tests such as X-rays to ensure that the ligament has not been completely torn.

As a torn ACL can’t heal on its own, surgery is the treatment of choice for an ACL tear. Nonsurgical treatments like bracing and physical therapy can be beneficial in some cases, especially for elderly patients or people who are less active. It is important to reconstruct the ACL surgically in young patients and active individuals since most tears in the ACL cannot be repaired. In surgery, a graft taken from another part of the body or a donor graft is used to replace the damaged ligament.

A minimally invasive procedure, an arthroscope involves less tissue damage and faster healing as opposed to open surgery. However, it will still take your knee at least six months to fully heal so you can begin normal activities again.

Types of ACL Surgery

You will have a tendon put in place of your torn ACL when your doctor removes it. The goal is to regain knee stability and restore your knee to its full range of motion. (Tendons connect muscle to bone.)

A tendon graft is when a tendon is implanted into your knee. ACL surgery can use three different types of grafts:

  • An autograft is a transplant of the skin from another person. It’s usually done with a tendon from somewhere else in your body (like your other knee or hamstring).
  • An allograft is a transplant of a blood cell. The tissue used for the graft comes from someone else (a deceased donor).
  • Artificial grafts. An artificial tendon is replaced with this material. (In the early part of the 20th century). silver or silk was used for the first time. Researchers are still searching for the best material for replacing ACLs, but more advanced options such as carbon fiber and Teflon are available now.

ACL Surgery Risks

Having an ACL repaired entails risks, as with any surgery. The operation may result in the following:

  • Breathing issues
  • Trouble peeing
  • Reaction to anesthesia
  • Bleeding at the wound
  • Infection
  • Shock
  • Blood clots

With ACL surgery, in particular, the risks include:

  • A graft not healing well
  • A graft failing after you return to physical activity
  • Knee pain
  • Stiffness in your knee


By exercising and training properly, one can reduce their chances of tearing their ACL. You can reduce risks by getting an assessment, instruction, and feedback from sports medicine specialists, such as physicians, physical therapists, athletic trainers, etc.

Programs to reduce ACL injury include:

Strengthening the core – including the hips, pelvis, and lower abdomen – so that athletes will be trained not to move their knee inward during a squat; Exercises that strengthen leg muscles, particularly hamstring exercises, to ensure an overall balance in leg muscle strength.

In order to improve technique and knee position when jumping and landing from jumps.

Tips on the proper way to pivot and cut movements.

Women’s ACL injuries can be reduced by strengthening leg, hip, and core muscles, improving jumping and landing techniques, and preventing inward movement of the knee.

ACL Surgery Recovery

The dressing on your wound will need to be changed before you leave the hospital. You may be told by your doctor to elevate your knee on pillows, put ice on it, and wrap it in a bandage to limit swelling. Your knee will probably be so sore that you’ll need crutches.

There are a number of drugs that can be prescribed to help with pain, including:

  • Over-the-counter medicines such as acetaminophen, ibuprofen, or naproxen.
  • Prescription drugs such as meloxicam (Mobic, Vivlodex) or gabapentin (Neurontin).

During the healing process of your ACL, you should begin progressive physical therapy. This will help to enhance muscle and ligament strength. It shouldn’t take you more than nine months to get back to doing the things you enjoy. After an injury, athletes may need up to a year before they can play again.