ACL

Third Day Orthopedics & Sports Medicine

Jeff N. Spaw, MD

Orthopedic Surgery & Total Joint Replacement Specialist located in College Station, TX & Brenham, TX

A sprained or torn anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) is one of the most common knee injuries. Board-certified orthopedic surgeon Jeffrey Spaw, MD, diagnoses and treats ACL injuries at Third Day Orthopedics & Sports Medicine in College Station and Brenham, Texas. If you think you have an ACL injury, call or book an appointment online today.

ACL Q & A

What is an ACL injury?

Two ligaments cross each other to form an X inside your knee joint: The anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) and posterior cruciate ligament (PCL). These ligaments control the back-and-forth motion of your knee.

Ligament injuries are called sprains and are graded according to the severity of the injury:

  • Grade 1 sprain - mild damage that stretches the ligament slightly
  • Grade 2 sprain - a partial tear of the ligament
  • Grade 3 sprain - most commonly referred to as a complete tear


Most ACL injuries involve complete or near-complete tears. About half of ACL injuries occur along with injuries to other knee structures, including the meniscus or articular cartilage.

What causes ACL injuries?

Athletes who participate in physically demanding sports like soccer and football are most likely to injure their ACL. Many movements required by sports can lead to an ACL tear, including:

  • Rapidly changing direction
  • Slowing down or stopping when running
  • Landing from a jump the wrong way
  • Direct contact, like a football tackle


It’s also possible to injure your ACL outside of physical activities, like during a motor vehicle collision.

What are the symptoms of an ACL injury?

If you tear your ACL, you may hear a popping noise and feel your knee give out at the time of injury. Within 24 hours, the following symptoms may appear.

  • Knee pain and swelling
  • Restricted range of motion
  • Difficulty walking on the injured leg


Even if the pain and swelling subside on their own, it’s important to seek professional treatment for a torn ACL. Without treatment, you risk causing further damage to your knee.

How are ACL injuries diagnosed and treated?

First, Dr. Spaw carefully examines your knee and reviews your symptoms and medical history. He may also take an X-ray to check for broken bones.

Then, he creates an individualized treatment plan tailored to your specific condition and activity level. ACL tears don’t heal without surgery. But if your knee is stable and you’re not very physically active, Dr. Spaw may recommend non-surgical treatments like physical therapy and wearing a knee brace.

If you’re an athlete who wants to return to sports, Dr. Spaw may recommend surgery to rebuild your ACL. Dr. Spaw uses Arthrex® surgical solutions and performs minimally invasive arthroscopic surgery to repair ACL tears.

For expert treatment of ACL injuries, call Third Day Orthopedics & Sports Medicine or book an appointment online today.

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