A torn ACL, short for anterior cruciate ligament, is a serious injury that requires immediate medical attention. It may also call for surgery — but not always.
For ACL injuries and other causes of acute and chronic knee pain, people from throughout southern California seek top-notch orthopedic care at NEIL GHODADRA, M.D. in Los Angeles and Thousand Oaks. Dr. Ghodadra is well known for his service as the team physician to the Chicago Bulls and Chicago White Sox, his expertise in sports medicine surgery, and his commitment to minimally invasive procedures.
If you’ve suffered an ACL tear, it’s important to understand what happened inside your knee and what it takes to restore its normal function. Here’s what you need to know.
What is an ACL tear?
An ACL tear is a common knee injury among athletes, especially those who play contact sports. The ACL is located deep within your knee and helps keep your joint stable when you’re running or pivoting. When your ACL tears, you may or may not hear a popping sound at the moment of the injury. But soon after, you can count on pain, swelling, and instability in your knee joint that makes standing, walking, and running difficult.
Stay off your leg and elevate it as soon as possible. You can reduce the swelling by icing your knee and taking over-the-counter anti-inflammatory drugs like ibuprofen until you can get in to see Dr. Ghodadra.
Dr. Ghodadra diagnoses ACL tears with a physical exam, a discussion of the injury or accident, and MRI imaging, and lets you know if your ACL damage is minor or severe.
Do you need surgery for an ACL tear?
Treatment for a torn ACL depends on several factors, including your activity goals. If you don’t plan to compete athletically or work in a physically demanding job or hobby, minor ACL tears (grade 1) with no other complications can heal on their own under Dr. Ghodadra’s supervision. You’ll wear a leg brace to stabilize your knee and undergo physical therapy to ensure proper healing.
However, if there are any other issues, such as torn cartilage or kneecap damage, then surgery may be necessary. Also, competitive athletes and those who lead physically demanding lives may need ACL reconstruction surgery to ensure the knee can perform these tasks well into the future.
Dr. Ghodadra specializes in the minimally invasive procedure known as arthroscopic surgery, which involves making small incisions around the knee joint and inserting tiny, specialized surgical instruments into the joint to repair the damaged ligament.
Benefits of surgical repair for an ACL tear
Surgical ACL repair offers many benefits for athletes and active people, including:
- Long-term pain relief
- Restored stability
- Stronger post-injury anatomy
- Return to activities sooner
- Improved athletic performance and confidence when active
Additionally, having surgery may reduce your risk of future injuries, such as a meniscal tear or osteoarthritis. However, it’s important to keep in mind that each person’s individual situation may require different treatments, and no treatment option can guarantee specific outcomes.
Whether you need surgery for an ACL tear depends on the severity of your injury, age, overall health, presence of other complications, and future activity goals.
If you’ve suffered an ACL tear, talk with Dr. Ghodadra for personalized advice about which treatment option might be best for you. Understanding more about why ACL surgery may be necessary can inform the best decision for you, so you can get back on track with your active lifestyle quickly and safely. To learn more or schedule an appointment, contact us at 310-929-4787 today.