Anterior Cruciate Ligament (ACL) rupture: Symptoms
Whilst some patients may report an instant sense of "instability", other patients may not be aware of instability until considerably later. In addition, standing on the knee can be uncomfortable due to bruising of the bones or associated meniscal cartilage damage.
Symptoms of an Anterior Cruciate Ligament (ACL) rupture to watch out for:
- Popping "sound or sensation" at the time of injury
- Immediate pain
- Swelling within 12 hours (feeling of instability and a progressive feeling of instability in the knee)
- Reduced range of motion
- Discomfort on weight-bearing
- Generalised tenderness
In these circumstances, the MCL damage becomes the priority and will require a period of immobilisation with a brace to allow it to heal before the ACL treatment can begin. In addition, the meniscal cartilages can be damaged as part of the twisting mechanism and may also require surgery, to treat the unstable fragments.
It is also quite common for the bone to be 'bruised' as a result of the significant pivoting injury that occurs at the instant of the twisting injury. This bone bruising is often self-limiting but can cause a degree of discomfort on weight-bearing. Every knee injury is obviously different but the various patterns of injury are common and treatment plans are therefore well established.
The eventual decision as to whether you proceed to surgery depends entirely on, not only the observed instability but also, the patients' age and sporting aspirations. It is perhaps important to stress that it is not a patient’s age alone which determines the treatment options, but rather their amount of desired activity levels.