The Anterior Cruciate Ligament (ACL), is one of four ligaments that connect the thighbone (femur) and tibia (shinbone) at the knee joint. It is one of the most commonly injured ligaments in the human body.
Inside the knee joint (composed of the femur, tibia, and patella/kneecap), the ACL aids stability by limiting mobility of the tibia. As the knee is a major weight-bearing joint, the ACL helps stabilize it by keeping the tibia in position, thus supporting the rest of the body.
Dr. Michael Rieber is one of the leading orthopedic surgeons who treat sports injuries in the New Jersey area. As official Team Orthopedic Surgeon and Team Physician for several area sports teams, from High School to Professional teams like The New Jersey Devils™.Dr. Rieber has extensive experience in knee arthroscopy and treating torn ACLs at all levels of competition.
What causes ACL tears
Tears in the ACL are among the most common sports injuries, and occur when the knee is forced outside its normal range of motion. Torn ACLs can occur from a direct impact to the knee, such as a tackle in football, or from overextension, as occurs during a cutting or rotating maneuver while running. A direct impact on the knee, such as a football tackle, can result in a torn ACL. Likewise, overextension of the knee, as during a cutting or rotating maneuver while running, can also cause an ACL tear.
Outside of sports, similar forces on the knee through trauma and/or overextension can cause ACL tears, though the intense physical demands of sports cause most ACL injuries.
When the ACL tears, there may not be immediate pain, but patients may hear a "pop" and experience their legs "giving out" from under them. Severe swelling, pain, and difficulty moving the knee soon follow this.
ACL Tear Diagnosis and Treatment
Ligaments, including the ACL, do not receive a direct blood supply and consequently cannot heal themselves. Less active patients may find surgery unnecessary, and feel more comfortable treating the injury through bracing and physical therapy. Athletes however, will need surgery to repair the torn ACL and return to the playing field in.
What is Knee Arthroscopy?
Dr. Rieber specializes in knee arthroscopy – a minimally invasive surgical technique and the most common surgical method to repair ACL tears. Arthroscopic techniques offer several potential benefits that reduced blood loss and scarring with minimal damage to tissue, all of which help lead to a quicker recovery and return to sports.
In an arthroscopic procedure a small incision is made and a tiny video camera is inserted into the knee joint. The internal images from the camera provide a clear view of the knee, which the orthopedic surgeon uses to diagnose and treat the injury. Special surgical instruments are then inserted through additional small incisions to repair the torn ACL.
Simply stitching the torn ends of the ACL back together is not an effective means of restoring the full function of the knee. Instead, a graft from another ligament (usually the patellar tendon) is taken to replace the function of the torn ACL and repair the tendon.