Anterior Cruciate Ligament (ACL) Injuries

February 6, 2016

The Anterior Cruciate Ligament (ACL) provides 90 percent of the knees’ stability. Without it, walking and standing up are not possible. The ACL is incredibly strong, but it can be severed by a direct impact, such as in a premises slip and fall, or absorbing too heavy of a load, such as a skier landing from a high jump. The University of California San Francisco’s Department of Orthopedic Surgery reports that there are more than 200,000 ACL injuries each year. Surgery, which is necessary in many cases of ACL tears, costs thousands of dollars and recovery time is at least six months. A patient’s likelihood of ever regaining full mobility and strength are slim.

Leading Causes and Demographics of ACL Injuries

Of 200,000 annual ACL injuries per year, 100,000 of these people will undergo knee reconstruction, which is a timely, expensive, and painful process. Varying on the severity of the injury, ACL surgery can cost as much as $11,500, according to 70.4 percent of all ACL injuries are due to sporting accidents with the majority of injuries coming from football, basketball, soccer, and skiing. Of all total ACL injuries, 70 percent are due to non-contact mechanisms, while 30 percent are due to direct contact. Due to the prevalence of injury in sport, younger people 15-45 years old are the most likely victims of ACL tears. While more males injure ACLs than females due to higher participation in sports, females are at greater risk of being injured with two to eight times the likelihood of injuring an ACL while participating in sports.

Listed below are the Mechanisms of ACL Tears:

  • A fall or jump from a height, landing on the feet;
  • A fall landing directly on the knee such from a slippery floor, stairwell with no handrails, or an uneven walkway;
  • A hard step down that twists or jolts the ACL;
  • A direct impact from a foreign object such as the front end of a car crumpling in during a collision; pedestrian and cyclists getting hit by a vehicle; manual labor work-related accidents; and
  • Sports injuries.

Recovering From an ACL Injury

Depending on the severity of the tear, your doctor will prescribe a medical or surgical option for recovery. ACL injuries can consist of full tears, partial tears, and bone avulsions (the tendon tears chunks of bone off). Both full and partial tears require suturing the tendon back together, possibly with use of a hamstring tendon graft. Bone avulsions also require surgery to reattach the bone fragments. Surgery takes at least six months from which to recover, followed by physical therapy. However, older patients with no athletic goals or desire to undergo a surgery late in life may wish to forgo surgery in partial tear scenarios. This compromises the strength and mobility of the knee. This medical options, as opposed to surgery, requires one to three weeks of rest. This time is spent icing, elevating, and compressing the joint to decrease swelling. Afterwards, aggressive rehabilitation will ensue to improve strength, mobility, and balance.

If you or a loved one suffered an ACL injury at work, in a car collision, or from a premises accident, contact one of our experienced Columbia personal injury attorneys at The Connell Law Firm, LLC today.