Does an ACL Tear Heal on Its Own?

Does an ACL Tear Heal on Its Own?

Your anterior cruciate ligament, or ACL, is one of the four main ligaments that keep your knee joint together. When it becomes injured or torn, it causes pain and instability in your knee. Getting treatment is crucial for your injury to heal completely.

At Commonwealth Musculoskeletal Medicine, our team helps you recover after an ACL injury. Dr. Mark Conliffe is a board-certified neuromusculoskeletal medicine specialist. He provides cutting-edge technology to help your ACL heal.

Types of ACL tears

Your ACL is an essential part of your knee joint; it’s one of two cruciate ligaments that cross each other to give your knee stability. During sports or other activities, your ACL controls how much your tibia is able to move forward.

If your ACL is torn, it allows too much movement of the tibia. This leads to other damage in your knee and joint instability. Although your ACL is strong, certain movements put too much pressure on the ligament, causing tears. These tears are graded by severity, and include:

Grade 1

Dr. Conliffe grades an ACL injury as a one if you’ve only sustained mild damage to the ligament. A grade 1 injury means you still have most of the stability in your knee joint.

Grade 2

A grade 2 injury happens when your ligament stretches and only tears partially. This kind of injury isn’t common, but causes both pain and some instability.

Grade 3

If you have a grade 3 injury, it means that your ACL has torn completely in half. This injury is the most severe, as it means significantly less stability in your knee. 

Any type of ACL injury causes not only pain, but problems with moving your knee. You may feel like your knee gives out when you’re walking, or you may not be able to participate in normal activities.

Treating an ACL tear

After an ACL injury, it’s important that you seek treatment from Dr. Conliffe as soon as possible. Even minor injuries may cause damage to surrounding tissues, leading to further injury and problems down the road.

Dr. Conliffe examines your knee to determine the type of injury you sustained. He uses advanced imaging studies to see your ACL and determine the severity of the tear and injury to surrounding tissues. This often involves an X-ray or MRI.

Your treatment options depend on the severity of your injury and your symptoms. Dr. Conliffe offers a variety of nonsurgical treatments when your ACL injury is minor. These treatments help to appease your symptoms, but won’t heal your ACL.

Nonsurgical treatments include physical therapy, bracing, and hyaluronic acid injections, or viscosupplementation. Dr. Conliffe also uses regenerative medicine treatments to help your injury get better. 

Though these treatments help decrease your pain, they won’t allow your ACL to heal completely. This isn’t possible without surgery.

When do you need surgery?

Many ACL tears require surgery, especially if you have a grade 3 tear and you’re active. If you want to get back to your normal activities after your injury, surgery may be the best option.

Your ACL can’t regenerate itself, meaning it won’t heal to the condition it was before your injury. The only sure-fire way to allow your ACL to heal completely is through reconstructive surgery.

This surgery allows your ACL to be reconstructed using either your own tissues or donor tissues. This provides your knee with the stability you need to get back to your normal activities. 

Dr. Conliffe and the team only suggest surgery if your ACL tear is severe and you aren’t able to perform normal tasks or activities. He and the team always try to provide you with the best nonsurgical care to allow you to get back to your busy life.

If you have a knee injury and need expert care, don’t hesitate to call our office today at 502-771-1012, or book an appointment online with Dr. Conliffe on our website.

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