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ACL Tear

Eastside Family Health Center -  - Internal Medicine

Eastside Family Health Center

Internal Medicine & Sports Medicine located in Kirkland, WA

ACL Injury Q&A

What is an ACL injury?

Most persons sustain an ACL injury (anterior cruciate ligament sprain or tear) when participating in sports. The ligaments of your ACL form a tissue band that holds the bones of your knees together.

Sprains and tears of the anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) are among the most frequent knee injuries. ACL injuries are more common in athletes playing high-demand sports like basketball, football, and soccer.

Signs and symptoms of ACL tear

Most ACL tears accompany pain and a "pop" in the knee. An ACL tear usually does not prevent a person from walking once the swelling subsides. However, the knee may feel shaky and "give way," causing the individual to trip or fall.

Other symptoms are:

  • Severe pain and inability to continue the activity
  • Rapid swelling
  • Tenderness along the joint line
  • Loss of range of motion


Causes of ACL injuries

Numerous things can harm the anterior cruciate ligament, including:

  • Changing direction rapidly
  • Stopping suddenly
  • Slowing down while running
  • Landing from a jump incorrectly
  • Direct contact or collision, such as a football tackle


The difference between an ACL tear and ACL sprain

A tear or sprain of the ACL is an injury. An ACL tear is a tearing of the ACL. There may be a full or partial tear. When the ACL is experiencing strain, it sprains (but is not torn).


Grades of injury

An ACL injury is classified as a grade I, II, or III sprain.


Grade I sprain

  • Although the ligament's fibers are stretched, there is no damage.
  • There is some swelling and pain.
  • During the action, the knee does not feel shaky or give way.
  • There is no heightened laxity, and the end feels hard.


Grade II sprain

  • The ligament's fibers are either incompletely ripped or partially torn with bleeding.
  • There is a small amount of discomfort, a fair amount of edema, and some functional loss.
  • During the activity, the joint may feel shaky or give way.
  • There is enhanced anterior translation, but with a solid endpoint.
  • Lachman's and anterior drawer stress tests are painful, and the pain worsens.


Grade III sprain

  • The ligament's fibers are completely torn (ruptured); the ligament is entirely torn into two parts.
  • In contrast to the terrible injury, there is tenderness but not much pain.
  • There may be a slight swelling or significant swelling.
  • The ligament is unable to regulate knee motion. At times, the knee feels unstable or gives way.
  • A positive pivot shift test also indicates rotational instability.
  • No conclusion is proven.
  • Within one to two hours, hemarthrosis develops.

When the ACL is torn from the femur or the tibia, an ACL avulsion develops. Children are more likely than adults to sustain this kind of injury. When the ACL is completely torn, a grade III sprain is referred to as an anterior cruciate deficient knee. It is well-acknowledged that an ACL tear cannot be repaired.

How Is an Anterior Cruciate Ligament (ACL)  Tear diagnosed?

Healthcare professionals do a physical assessment and inquire about the injuries to diagnose an ACL tear. During the examination, the medical professional applies pressure on the knee and moves the legs in particular directions. These tests can detect a torn ACL.

Medical professionals may also request imaging procedures such as:

  • X-rays to look for skeletal injuries.
  • A knee MRI assesses the severity of an ACL tear and rules out additional problems.


Our approach: 

If you suspect you have an ACL tear or other ACL injury, it is important to contact your physician immediately. At Eastside Family Health Center, we perform comprehensive diagnostic tests to determine the source of the pain or injury. We utilize Ultrasound, physical evaluations, and balance tests, among other methods. Based on the results, we can offer you the appropriate treatment plan to increase the speed of recovery and ease pain, including MSK injections, pain medication, physical rehab, and routine follow-up. Contact our office to learn more or to schedule an appointment at 425-899-2525