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Get Back in the Game Faster: What You Need to Know About Recovering from an ACL Sports Injury

Your anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) is a strong band of tissue that connects your thigh bone to your shin bone and provides essential joint stability in your knee. ACL sprains and tears are leading sports injuries that put athletes out of the game.

In fact, up to 200,000 athletes suffer ACL tears each year, making it one of the most common sports injuries among student, recreational, and professional athletes alike. 

ACL tears compromise joint stability, but seeking prompt care from sports medicine specialists could get you the recovery plan you need to return to your favorite activities. Our team at Manhattan Orthopedics is here to diagnose and treat your ACL injury so you can get back in the game faster.

Understanding ACL injuries

ACL injuries are often characterized by a popping sensation at the time of injury, followed by pain and swelling. The most common causes of ACL injury include abrupt movements or hard landings. A quick change in direction, sudden stop, or a poor landing on the field can separate your ACL from the bones in your knee.

If you get hurt, it’s important to visit the doctor. Only a professional exam can diagnose your ACL tear, and our team specializes in evaluating these common sports injuries.

ACL injuries typically fall into three different categories:

Grade 1 sprain

Grade 1 sprains are the mildest ACL injuries. Your ACL has stretched beyond its usual range of motion, but it hasn’t torn. It’s mildly damaged, but it can still stabilize your knee joint.

Grade 2 sprain

In a Grade 2 sprain, your ACL was stretched far beyond its typical range. It may now be loose, with noticeable joint instability.

Grade 2 sprains are sometimes called partial ACL tears, but partial tears are fairly rare. If your ACL is torn, it’s most likely a near complete or complete tear (Grade 3 sprain).

Grade 3 sprain

Grade 3 sprains are complete or full ligament tears. In these cases, your ACL has separated into two pieces, and you have little to no joint stability in your knee.

Nonsurgical treatment for ACL injury

Mild sprains and partial tears can sometimes be treated with conservative, nonsurgical methods. Depending on the severity of your injury and your lifestyle, our orthopedic team may start by recommending options like physical therapy or knee bracing.

Older people who aren’t athletes are generally the best candidates for nonsurgical ACL treatment. If you play sports or live an active lifestyle, you’ll likely need surgery to restore full mobility to your knee.

Surgery for ACL tear

Our surgeons at Manhattan Orthopedics specialize in minimally invasive ACL repair with arthroscopy. Arthroscopy is a surgical technique that involves a small camera, specialized tools, and tiny incisions to repair your ACL.

During surgery, we reconstruct your torn ACL with a tissue graft that connects the two separate pieces of your ACL. The tissue may come from elsewhere in your body or from a donor.

Physical therapy is an important element of ACL tear recovery. After surgery, our team gives you a physical therapy plan designed to restore mobility, increase flexibility, and reduce your risk of future injury when you return to sports.

Minimally invasive surgery offers a shorter recovery time than traditional open surgery, but full recovery for an ACL procedure may still take up to six months or longer. As your body heals, you’ll be able to reintroduce your favorite activities.

Have you suffered an ACL tear? Partner with our sports medicine team at Manhattan Orthopedics so you can get back in the game faster. We have three New York City offices in Manhattan, Astoria, and Brooklyn. Contact the office nearest you online or over the phone for your first appointment.

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