A ligament is connective tissue that joins two bones or pieces of cartilage together. Your anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) is one of the main ligaments of the knee, connecting your shin and thigh bones behind the kneecap.
An ACL tear is one of the most common knee injuries. It occurs when the ACL, the key stabilizing ligament behind the kneecap, becomes damaged or torn. ACL injury typically results from a sudden stopping or twisting motion, often when playing sports.
ACL treatment varies depending on how severe the injury is. Some ACL tears can be treated with rest, medication or physical therapy. Others may require minimally invasive surgery with an orthopedic surgeon.
As the largest health care provider in Wisconsin, Aurora treats a high number of people for torn ACLs each year. Our knee specialists have extensive expertise in diagnosing and repairing ACL tears, giving us a depth of experience that translates to better results for you.
People throughout Wisconsin come to us when they have an ACL injury because we offer:
A torn ACL often results from a sudden stopping, twisting or jarring motion during physical activity. ACL injury may cause a strained ACL as well as a partial or full ACL tear.
Signs that you may have an ACL injury include:
If you experience any of these symptoms, see a doctor as soon as possible to prevent future damage and understand your treatment options.
When you visit one of our orthopedic specialists, they’ll first perform a physical exam to check for swelling, pain and range of motion. Specialists can often provide a diagnosis based on your physical exam, but you may need additional tests to evaluate whether you have a partial or full ACL tear.
Your doctor may order a magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) test to determine the extent of your ACL injury. An MRI scan uses radio waves and strong magnets to create detailed images of bones and soft tissues. Your doctor may also order an X-ray to rule out any possible bone fracture associated with your injury.
Learn more about orthopedic diagnosis.
Some partial ACL tears require only rest, medication and physical therapy as treatment. Other partial and complete ACL tears require surgery to repair.
Our orthopedic surgeons specialize in arthroscopic ACL repair, a minimally invasive surgery that offers faster recovery times and less scarring.
During arthroscopy, surgeons insert small, flexible instruments with cameras through tiny incisions in the front of the knee. The cameras allow them to guide the procedure via live video feed and make more precise movements – so you can get back to your active lifestyle faster.