Stephen J. Schueler, M.D.

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ACL Tear Treatment

The treatment for a cruciate ligament knee injury varies with the severity of the ligament injury. Initial treatment includes rest, elevation, cold compresses, an elastic wrap, and crutches. A splint or a brace may be required to stabilize the knee.

Severe injuries may require surgery to repair the ligament. A cruciate ligament is repaired with a flexible scope, called an arthroscope. Small incisions are made in the knee, in order to insert the arthroscope and introduce tools to repair the ligament. Surgery can restore normal function, although physical therapy is needed to restore strength and flexibility.

The decision to repair a cruciate ligament is based on a variety of factors:

  • Age
  • General health
  • Desire for participation in sports
  • Severity of the tear
  • Severity of symptoms
  • Loss of function
  • Concern for future knee arthritis

Treatment for cruciate ligament knee injury may include:
  • Cold compresses
  • Rest:
    • Use a walker.
    • Use crutches.
    • Use a cane.
  • Knee elevation
  • An elastic wrap to the knee
  • A knee brace or hinged splint
  • Narcotic pain medication:
    • For moderate to severe pain
    • For short term use only
  • Surgery for knee sprain:
    • To repair torn cruciate ligaments
    • ACL reconstruction
    • Usually performed arthroscopically
  • Physical therapy

ACL Tear Questions For Doctor

The following are some important questions to ask before and after the treatment of a cruciate ligament knee injury.

Questions to ask before treatment:

  • What are my treatment options?
    • Is surgery an option for me?
  • What are the risks associated with treatment?
  • Do I need to stay in the hospital?
    • How long will I be in the hospital?
  • What are the complications I should watch for?
  • How long will I be on medication?
  • What are the potential side effects of my medication?
  • Does my medication interact with nonprescription medicines or supplements?
  • Should I take my medication with food?

Questions to ask after treatment:
  • Do I need to change my diet?
  • Are there any medications or supplements I should avoid?
  • When can I resume my normal activities?
  • When can I return to work?
  • Do I need a special exercise program?
  • Will I need physical therapy?
  • Will I need occupational therapy?
  • What else can I do to reduce my risk for having this injury again?
  • How often will I need to see my doctor for checkups?
  • What local support and other resources are available?

ACL Tear Specialist

Physicians from the following specialties evaluate and treat cruciate ligament knee injury:

Continue to ACL Tear Home Care

Last Updated: Jun 7, 2011 References
Authors: Stephen J. Schueler, MD; John H. Beckett, MD; D. Scott Gettings, MD
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PubMed ACL Tear References
  1. Beynnon BD, Johnson RJ, Abate JA, Fleming BC, Nichols CE. Treatment of anterior cruciate ligament injuries, part I. Am J Sports Med. 2005 Oct;33(10):1579-602. [16199611]
  2. Boutin RD, Fritz RC. MRI of snow skiing and snowboarding injuries. Semin Musculoskelet Radiol. 2005 Dec;9(4):360-78. [16315118]
  3. Hayashi R, Kitamura N, Kondo E, Anaguchi Y, Tohyama H, Yasuda K. Simultaneous anterior and posterior cruciate ligament reconstruction in chronic knee instabilities: surgical concepts and clinical outcome. Knee Surg Sports Traumatol Arthrosc. 2008 Jun 7. [18536904]
  4. Iversen MD, Friden C. Pilot study of female high school basketball players' anterior cruciate ligament injury knowledge, attitudes, and practices. Scand J Med Sci Sports. 2008 Jun 18. [18627558]
  5. Oztekin HH, Boya H, Ozcan O, Zeren B, Pinar P. Pain and affective distress before and after ACL surgery: A comparison of amateur and professional male soccer players in the early postoperative period. Knee. 2008 Jul 15. [18635361]
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