Skip to main content
Health & Wellness

ACL Injury and Nonsurgical Repairs

By Dr. Otis Drew
August 4, 2019

If you’ve injured your ACL, you may be worried about needing surgery. The good news is, not all ACL injuries require surgery. It helps to know what’s really going on inside your knee.

How do you know if you’ve injured your ACL?

The anterior cruciate ligament (or ACL) is a primary ligament in the knee joint. It’s part of the group of ligaments that connects the femur to your tibia. A healthy ACL is critical for movement of the knee joint.

Common injury symptoms include:

  • Hearing a popping noise at time of injury
  • Swelling, warmth or redness around the knee
  • Buckling of the knee
  • Difficulty walking, running and exercising

Types of ACL injuries and treatment options

ACL injuries can either be complete or partial. While complete tears almost always require surgery, partial tears may be treated effectively with nonsurgical methods. ACL tears are graded by severity, from a Grade 1 -- a sprain-- to a Grade 3 -- a complete tear.   

The first line of treatment should include rest, ice, compression and elevation. The physicians at Lafayette General Orthopaedics determine the need for surgery based on the level of instability in the knee

Other determining factors include:

Return to activities: If you must return to sports or other activities that require pivoting or sharp movements, ACL reconstruction surgery is usually recommended. If you don’t need to return to such movements, the joint can often be stabilized and strengthened with proper physical therapy.

Pain: Your pain level is a key determinant in whether surgery is needed. ACL tears, even at Grade 2, may warrant surgery if pain is severe.

Lifestyle: If you have a partial tear and lead a relatively sedentary lifestyle, you may not need surgical reconstruction.

Growth plates: If your growth plates are still open (only applicable to children), surgery may not be required for a partial tear.

If you suffer an ACL injury, it’s important to seek medical care immediately regardless of the grade of your sprain. If you think you’ve injured your ACL, call right away for an appointment. We can evaluate the injury and provide you with the best course of treatment.