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Senior Man Holding His Knee Due To Pain

Knee Pain? How to Tell if Your ACL is Torn or Sprained

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Your anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) is one of the most important parts of your knee. This connective tissue provides movement and support for a variety of activities — from a simple walk in the park to athletic leaps in sports.

If you suspect you may have torn your ACL, then it is important to take the necessary steps and precautions immediately.

So in this article, we will cover the ways in which an ACL can be damaged, and ultimately the question of “what does a torn ACL feel like?” That way, you can seek the appropriate surgical or non-surgical treatment necessary to heal your body and regain full, natural, pain-free movement.

How Does an ACL Get Injured?

What does it feel like when you tear your ACL? Well, this can often depend on how you injured your knee in the first place.

You can tear an ACL a few different ways: stopping suddenly after running, quickly changing direction, landing on it wrong, or colliding with another person or object.

However, certain diet, exercise, and nutrition plans can help reduce the risk of injury.

Read More: What Food to Avoid When You Have Knee Pain?

How to Tell if ACL is Torn or Sprained

There are 3 grades of severity when injuring your ACL. Technically, some sprains are also tears. But typically, a “sprain” refers to a less severe tear.

Here are the grades of knee sprains in terms of severity:

  • Grade 1: The ligament is slightly damaged, and the knee is still stable.
  • Grade 2: The ligament is damaged to the point of a partial tear.
  • Grade 3: The ligament is severely damaged, resulting in a complete tear (resulting in two separate pieces), and the knee is no longer stable.

This grading system is why answering the question of “what does an ACL tear feel like?” is difficult to answer without a doctor’s evaluation.

However, sometimes an ACL injury is more obvious, such as experiencing the below symptoms:

What Does it Feel Like to Tear Your ACL?: 5 Tell-Tale Signs

When you tear an ACL, it usually comes with one of these symptoms of pain or discomfort:

  • A loud “pop” in your knee
  • Extreme pain
  • Fast, visual swelling
  • Reduced range of motion
  • A sense of “buckling” in which you feel like your knee cannot support any weight

If you feel any of these sensations, you should consult a doctor who can confirm the diagnosis, often using an X-ray or MRI to identify the extent of the injury.

Improving an ACL Injury Without Surgery

Many ACL sprains and tears require surgery. However, not all of them do. In some cases, you may support healing and reduce pain in your knee with the following non-surgical methods:

  • Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medicine
  • Knee brace for enhanced stability
  • Physical therapy to increase range of motion or strength
  • Crutches to avoid putting additional weight on the affected ACL

However, keep in mind that if you have torn the ACL and are at least mildly physically active, surgery is the most probable solution.

Stop the Pain and Start the Healing

If you’ve suffered a torn ACL in Baltimore, then surgery performed by a qualified surgeon can greatly improve your quality of life. Contact Ascension Saint Agnes to determine your options for healing your knee and regaining your mobility.