Will an ACL Tear Heal on its Own?

Will an ACL Tear Heal on its Own?

When you’re active in sports or other activities, you’re vulnerable to a wide range of injuries. A common knee injury is an ACL tear. One of four ligaments in your knee, the anterior cruciate ligament, helps to stabilize your knee joint, meaning a tear has undesirable consequences.

Surgery is an option, but can your ACL heal by itself?

At Mehling Orthopedics, our team has experts in sports injuries in general and the all-too-familiar ACL tears. Dr. Brian Mehling and Dr. Pavel Yufit are our two orthopedic surgeons, who offer comprehensive care and treatment when you’ve suffered an ACL tear.

Symptoms of an ACL tear

Your ACL is an essential component of your knee joint. It provides stability and keeps your shin bone from moving too far past your thigh bone.

Along with your posterior cruciate ligament (PCL), your ACL joins the two collateral ligaments to connect your shin bone and thigh bone at the knee joint. An ACL injury can leave you with these and other symptoms:

The severity of your symptoms depends on the type of ACL injury. A more mild injury to the ligament produces less aggressive symptoms. However, if you’ve completely torn your ACL, the signs are immediately apparent.

Types of ACL tears

There are actually several different types of ACL injuries, ranging from mild to severe. Being active in certain sports, like football and basketball, increases your risk for this type of injury. Direct trauma may also cause your ACL to tear.

When you come into the office to see Dr. Mehling or Dr. Yufit, they diagnose your ACL injury by its grade. There are three main grades of an ACL injury, which include:

Grade 1 

A grade 1 ACL injury happens when the ligament is stretched beyond its normal range. However, it’s still able to provide some stability to your knee joint.

Grade 2

A grade 2 ACL injury is rare, as it happens when your ACL is stretched, but also partially torn. This means the ligament is very loose, and isn’t providing enough stability in your joint.

Grade 3

A grade 3 ACL injury is the most severe. This type of injury happens when the ACL tears apart, leaving it in two pieces. With a grade 3 injury, you notice significant instability in your knee joint.

Our doctors recommend treatment for any ACL injury that causes you pain or instability in your knee. Through diagnostic imaging, the team identifies any other tissue injuries to provide you with the best treatment plan to get you back to your active life.

Will your ACL tear heal without surgery?

The answer to this question is somewhat complicated. If your ACL is only stretched but not torn, you likely don’t need surgery, as the ligament will heal with rest, physical therapy, and other conservative measures. 

However, if you’re active, a grade 2 ACL tear may require surgery, and a grade 3 tear almost certainly will. When the ligament is torn, there’s no way for it to heal back together enough to provide stability to your knee joint.

Essentially, your ACL wouldn’t ever be the same without surgical intervention. If you’re an active person and looking to get back out on the field, the only way to do so is through an operation known as an ACL reconstruction.

This procedure allows Dr. Mehling and Dr. Yufit to reconstruct your ACL using one of your tendons or a donor tendon. This provides your knee with the proper stability and strength after your recovery process.

You may choose to forgo surgical intervention, but your ACL will never completely heal. However, if you’re older and not very active, this may be an appropriate treatment route for you.

For expert treatment for your ACL injury, don’t hesitate to call one of our offices in Hackensack, New Jersey, or West Islip, New York, to set up an appointment with Dr. Mehling or Dr. Yufit. You can also send our team a message here on our website.

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