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The anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) is a ligament that connects the femur (e.g., thighbone) with the tibia (e.g., shinbone). ACL injuries occur when a patient’s knee is hyperextended, twisted or forced to the side. While female athletes are more prone to ACL injuries than male athletes, ACL injuries are fairly common in both genders. As a knee stabilizer, the ACL is placed at risk during basketball, hockey, skiing, soccer and other sports that require running, kicking and sharp turns. In total, more than 60,000 ACL reconstructions are performed in the U.S. each year.
Unfortunately, no single exercise can prevent injury to the ACL. The good news is that you can give yourself some protection by developing and maintaining strength and endurance in your lower extremities. To promote stability in the knee, perform closed-chain exercises—for example, leg presses, squats or lunges as part of your strength-training program. Also, add some cross-training to your cardiovascular workout using the stairclimber, stationary bike or ski machine. You can also help to prevent ACL injuries by practicing landing with the knees bent after jumps, and crouching when pivoting and turning.
Symptoms may include knee buckling/instability, weakness, pain, or swelling, and may be caused by a partial or total tear of the ligament. In some cases, the ligament tears away a piece of the bone, resulting in an “avulsion fracture.” It is also fairly common for ACL tears to be accompanied by other knee injuries, such as cartilage, meniscus or other ligament damage.
In order to diagnose an ACL tear, your physician will need a thorough medical history report and a physical examination. He or she may also require an X-ray or magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) of the knee joint.
Dr. Robert A. Kayal, MD, who is a pioneer in custom knee replacement, and his team of specialists in Bergen County focus on sports medicine, including the treatment and repair of knee injuries to the anterior cruciate ligament (ACL). Partially torn ACLs may be rehabilitated with physical therapy, rest and anti-inflammatory medication. Severe or total tears, however, do not typically heal well without intervention from ACL surgeons. If a patient wishes to return to sports and normal activities, surgical treatment may be recommended. ACL surgery consists of replacing the ligament with a substitute tendon graft, which stabilizes the knee and reduces or eliminates pain. ACL surgery may be done arthroscopically—through small incisions—to reduce scarring and to expedite rehabilitation.If you’ve suffered several knee injuries due to an accident or sports-related trauma, ACL surgery may be more extensive. Dr. Robert A. Kayal and his team of knee specialists will examine your injury and tailor a treatment plan to suit your lifestyle and recovery needs.
Kayal Orthopaedic Center has conveniently located offices throughout Bergen County in Franklin Lakes, Glen Rock, Westwood, Paramus, Garfield, Paterson, North Bergen and Montvale (coming in 2020), and a location in Stony Point, NY.