The Anterior Cruciate Ligament (ACL) – a pair of cruciate ligaments, is part of the four ligaments in the knee. The other three ligaments include the Posterior Cruciate Ligament (PCL), Lateral Collateral Ligament (LCL), and Medial Collateral Ligament (MCL). The ACL helps to stabilize, support and strengthen the knee joint. Like the PCL, the ACL connects the thigh bone (femur) to the shin bone (tibia). However, the ACL is located in the front of the knee, unlike the PCL, which is located in the back. The ACL is the main ligament in the knee, helping to prevent the shin bone from sliding in front of the thigh bone.
- About 150,000 ACL injuries occur in the US every year with healthcare costs over $500 million. (American Orthopedic Society for Sports Medicine).
- Young women are two to eight times more likely to injure their ACL than young men. (NIH Medline Plus)
If you have sustained an ACL sprain or tear, you are not alone. Ligaments that are stretched/pulled can often tear – ranging from a slight tear to a complete tear and detachment. High-level athletes – including Tiger Woods, Tom Brady, Adrian Peterson, Kara Winger, Bria Hartley and Alex Morgan, have suffered an ACL injury. Whether playing sports for recreation or as a professional athlete, an ACL injury can happen – in fact, it is the most commonly injured ligament in the knee, often due to sudden stops, a change of direction or jumping/landing. Interestingly, almost 80% of ACL tears due to sports participation, are non-contact injuries.
ACL injuries can also occur due to an automobile accident, slip and fall/misstep, rough play, poor conditioning, wearing incorrect footwear, or may be work or hobby related. Overdoing or doing certain movements incorrectly while dancing, working out at the gym, carrying a heavy load, or lifting your child or grandchild, may result in an ACL injury.
Signs/Symptoms of an ACL may include:
- A sudden or loud pop at the time of the injury
- Knee pain
- Knee swelling
- Unable to bend the knee, reduced range of motion
- Instability of the knee
- Unable to bear weight on the knee
- Difficulty standing or walking
If you are experiencing any of the signs/symptoms listed above, please speak with your doctor to determine the extent and severity of your injuries, and if treatment is necessitated. Without an evaluation and treatment, symptoms may worsen, and there may be a greater risk of developing various health conditions – including arthritis.
After a physical examination and assessment, your doctor may give you a script for an MRI – which uses magnetic fields and radio waves to create images, to determine if there is a ligament tear, cartilage damage or if additional injuries to the knee occurred. Injuries are graded as follows:
- Grade 1: The ligament is mildly damaged – slightly stretched, however the knee joint remains stable.
- Grade 2: The ligament is stretched and becomes loose, resulting in a partial tear. A Grade 2 injury is a rare occurrence.
- Grade 3: The ligament has a complete tear, splitting into two pieces. The knee joint is unstable, often requiring surgery.
At Dynamic Medical Imaging in Union, NJ we offer an Upright MRI, the only Upright MRI in the area, to provide vital diagnostic testing – accurately and comfortably. DMI’s open, “non-claustrophobic”, Upright MRI allows a patient to sit or stand and watch television during the procedure. Patients can be scanned in their positions of pain or symptoms. Additionally, body organs and tissues can be viewed in their normal position of function – upright. Diagnostic benefits of an Upright MRI include the ability to see more pathology than with recumbent, lying down scanners.
Dynamic Medical Imaging, leading experts in personal injury imaging, offers 3D MRI Rendering – the creation of a 3 dimensional digital model from standardized MRI study. This is accomplished by using the latest technology to ‘stack’ the highly detailed, thin, slice cross-sectional images from the MRI to generate the 3D model. Higher resolution, crisp images, additional angles, and details provide vital information for treatment.