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Torn ACL: What Now?

If you hurt your knee while playing sports or by twisting your knee when your foot was firmly planted on the ground, you may have an injured anterior cruciate ligament (ACL). This common injury can be painful, and it requires rest, physical therapy, or even surgery

When you have any kind of knee injury, it’s important to seek medical treatment as soon as possible. Board-certified orthopedic surgeon and sports medicine specialist Steven E. Nolan, MD has been treating patients with knee injuries in Sugar Land, Texas, for more than two decades. So, if you have an ACL tear, let Dr. Nolan help you get back on the road to recovery. 

How an ACL tear is diagnosed

When you tear your ACL, you may hear a loud popping sound in your knee. It may swell within 24 hours, and it may hurt a lot. It may also be hard to put weight on that leg or walk, and you may be unstable when standing. These are telltale signs of an ACL injury, but Dr. Nolan can tell you for sure. When you come in for a consultation, he examines you and may order diagnostic tests like X-rays or an MRI to confirm the diagnosis. 

How an ACL tear is treated

First of all, you’ll have to rest and keep your leg elevated. You may need to wear a knee brace or use crutches to keep weight off your knee. You may also need to go for physical therapy to strengthen the muscles that support your knee. You may also take over-the-counter pain relievers or prescription pain relievers or steroids to help reduce pain and lower inflammation.

Giving it time to heal on its own

If you have a minor ACL tear and are stable when you stand up, you may be able to get by using a knee brace and undergoing physical rehabilitation. 

Reconstructing an ACL tear

More severe ACL tears may require surgery. But there’s no need to worry. ACL reconstruction is common, and Dr. Nolan uses a minimally invasive technique called knee arthroscopy. This is usually done as an outpatient procedure, allowing you to return home the same day. Because he’s highly skilled in treating these injuries, you can rest easy knowing you’re in good hands.

What happens after surgery

You’re given home-care instructions to follow as you heal from the surgery. When ready, you go for physical rehabilitation for a few months up to one year. Each injury is unique, and some people heal faster than others, so there’s no way to tell exactly how long your rehab will take. Usually, you can resume normal activities at around six months. Unfortunately, if you’re an athlete, it can take a bit longer. You may not be able to return to your normal level of activity for up to a year or more.

If you tear your ACL, you’ll have a long road to recovery ahead of you. But don’t get discouraged. By being patient and getting the proper care and rehabilitation, you should be able to return to your favorite activities and even play sports again. Schedule a consultation with Dr. Nolan by calling 281-720-6910 or by using our convenient online booking tool today.

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