What are ACL Tears and How Can you Fix Them? - NBC29 WVIR Charlottesville, VA News, Sports and Weather

Martha Jefferson Monday: What are ACL Tears and How Can you Fix Them?

Whether it's playing a team sport like football or soccer, or simply going out for a jog, if you step the wrong way, you could find yourself facing an ACL (anterior cruciate ligament) tear. 

"When you have an ACL tear, it actually ruptures.  It's like a rope tearing in two pieces and so it bleeds," said Dr. Stephen Gunther, a sports medicine specialist with Martha Jefferson Orthopaedics. 

Your ACL is a ligament in your knee that's similar to a tendon. 

"Without the ligament your knee shifts forward and feels like a buckling, unstable episode in your knee and swells and gets painful," commented Gunther. 

Often time, the tears can happen even if you aren't playing contact sports. 

"It's actually very common to have non-contact, deceleration, pivoting, twisting type injuries. It's like when you're running down a basketball court or a soccer field and you plant your foot and twist the other direction, it can twist very easily and pop," said Gunther. 

For minor injuries, rest, ice and sometimes physical therapy can provide a fix. Other times, surgery is necessary. 

"To fix tears, we take a ligament from the front of your patellar tendon, or your hamstring tendon, or your quadriceps tendon and move it to inside your knee through little holes in the tibia and the femur."  

It's an outpatient procedure and patients typically get motion back within two to three weeks. There is, however, on-going strengthening that must take place in order for the tear to fully heal. 

For more information on this topic, call Martha Jefferson Health Connection at (434) 654-7009. If you have a health question you'd like for us to answer, email healthquestions@nbc29.com

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