The doctors at Long Island Spine Rehabilitation Medicine frequently treat knee injuries, including ACL tears, with a variety of successful nonsurgical methods. You may have become aware of ACL tears through media coverage of professional athletes’ injuries and now have the misfortune of suffering the pain and incapacity of such an injury yourself. If so, do yourself a favor and contact our dedicated team of physiatrists so you can be properly diagnosed and begin some serious healing.
What are ACL tears?
ACL stands for anterior cruciate ligament. Ligaments are strong ropes of muscle tissue that attach one bone to another. You have two ACLs, one at each knee. They serve the important purpose of connecting your thigh bone (femur) to your shinbone (tibia), helping to stabilize your knee joints. When your ACL tears, these bones slide beyond their normal limits and the knee becomes unstable, giving way and failing to support your weight as you attempt to stand and walk.
Causes of ACL Tears
Though ACL tears often occur during sports activities, they can also occur during recreational activities (e.g. jumping on a trampoline), slip and fall accidents, and car collisions. Those who play soccer, football, basketball, volleyball, downhill skiing, lacrosse, long distance running, and tennis are at increased risk of ACL tears since the following movements make this injury more likely:
- Changing direction rapidly
- Stopping suddenly
- Slowing down while running
- Landing from a jump incorrectly
- Colliding, as in a football tackle
Approximately half of all individuals who suffer ACL injuries also suffer collateral damage to other structures in the knee, such as other ligaments or the meniscus (the thin fibrous cartilage between the surfaces of the knee joint). Female athletes are more susceptible to ACL tears than their male peers. It is postulated that this may be due to differences in anatomical structure, muscular strength or hormone levels.
Some ACL Tears Require Surgical Intervention
Many ACL tears can be successfully treated without surgery. At Long Island Spine Medicine Rehabilitation, our doctors are physiatrists, specializing in nonsurgical therapies. We focus on pain relief and restoration of function and may well be able to make you comfortable and able to return to your everyday activities without the costs and risks associated with surgical procedures.
Even if your ACL tear requires surgical intervention — either because you are an athlete who will be continually stressing the knee joint or because your injury is especially severe — we can offer you pre- and post-surgical therapies designed to reinforce the positive impact of the operation and speed up your recovery process.
Symptoms of ACL Tears
When you suffer an ACL tear, you know you have suffered a serious injury. For one thing, you will likely hear a popping sound and feel its accompanying sensation in your knee. For another, your knee will probably buckle under you. In addition, you will experience some or all of the following indications that something is terribly wrong with your knee joint:
- Severe pain
- Swelling immediately or within 24 hours
- Instability of the affected knee (buckling)
- Loss of full range of motion
- Tenderness along the joint line
- Pain that worsens with weight-bearing activity
Though our doctors won’t be able to heal your ACL tear overnight, we will be able to offer you some immediate relief by advising you to follow RICE home remedies (rest, ice, compression, elevation) and to take painkillers (over-the-counter or prescribed). We will also fit you with a knee brace that aids by compressing the knee joint and providing a measure of external support. Depending on circumstances, we may also provide you with crutches to keep you from putting weight on your affected knee.
Our Physiatrists Are Excellent Diagnosticians
Proper diagnosis is essential in determining the appropriate course of treatment and our doctors are exceptionally well-trained in this aspect of medicine. Not only will we take a medical history to be aware of any underlying conditions or prior surgeries that may be relevant, but we will perform a thorough physical examination. Imaging tests, such as X-rays, MRI or CT scans, or ultrasound may also be necessary.
Have no fear, if your ACL tear requires surgery, we will refer you to a well-respected colleague with whom we can coordinate efforts.
Treatments We Have Successfully Used to Rehabilitate Our Patients
Healing from an ACL tear requires diligently following a course of physical therapy. It also requires a good dose of patience, since full recovery for an athlete may take from 6 months to a year or even longer. If you are not an athlete, however, you may be able to resume everyday activities in as short a period as 12 weeks while still undergoing rehabilitative treatment.
In any event, the time spent will be worth the trouble; after a full regimen of therapy options at Long Island Spine Rehabilitation Medicine, you should be back to yourself and able to return to your typical lifestyle.
We offer a variety of treatments proven to relieve pain and facilitate healing, including:
- Physical therapy to restore strength and range of motion
- Platelet-Rich Plasma (PRP) injections to speed healing
- Corticosteroid/analgesic injections to relieve pain and inflammation at the site
- PEMF (Pulsed Electromagnetic Field) technology to increase blood flow to your cells
- Acupuncture to relieve pain and inflammation
- Viscosupplementation (injections of hyaluronic acid) to lubricate the knee joint
We will also educate you on ways to strengthen your surrounding muscles and avoid future knee injuries.
Suspect You Have an ACL Tear? Contact Our Experienced Doctors Today
If you have suffered the severe pain of a serious knee injury, don’t prolong the agony. Consult with our competent, caring professionals now so that we can properly diagnose the problem and begin accelerating the healing process.