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Causes of ACL Tears

The knee joint is a complex structure in charge of stabilizing and coordinating the movements of three bones: the shinbone (tibia), the kneecap (patella), and the thigh bone (femur). Acting as strong ropes of soft tissue, the collateral and cruciate ligaments connect these bones and play a vital role in maintaining motions frictionless and cushioned. 

When the Anterior Cruciate Ligament becomes injured or stretches beyond capacity, you might suffer an ACL tear, which leads to pain, swelling, reduced range of motion, and the inability to bear weight on the knee.



Although this kind of injury can happen suddenly at any point in life, there are some causes and risk factors to watch out for. Let’s look at the main ones below.

Repeated or Excessive Knee Stress

Even if you are not regularly exposed to high-impact activities, it’s important not to underestimate the cumulative effect that repeated stresses (even if less severe) can cause on the ACL. In particular, over time, stress can cause micro-damages to the ligament, which can become weakened, less elastic, and ultimately more prone to injury. 

Direct Trauma

Trauma or collisions that affect the knee area directly can cause the ACL to become hyper-extended, torn, or entirely ruptured. Fractures affecting knee bones such as the patella can also injure the ACL. 

Awkward or Sudden Movements (i.e.: Pivoting or Landing on One Leg)

The vast majority of ACL tears are non-contact injuries, meaning that they occur without direct trauma. In particular, the ACL can become torn or ruptured due to pivoting, twisting, inward-bending, or backward-bending actions, caused by sudden and forceful movements.  

Risk Factors

Although anyone can injure their ACL at any time, some factors can increase your risk of reporting a ligament tear. These include:

  • Being female
  • Having a history of ACL injuries
  • Aging 
  • Taking part in certain contact and non-contact sports

Studies have shown that people participating in soccer, football, basketball, skiing, and lacrosse are at the highest risk of reporting an ACL injury, and professional athletes are 7 times more likely to injure their knee ligaments compared to amateurs. 

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Symptoms of ACL Tears

ACL sprains are categorized into three grades, depending on the severity of the injury:

  • Grade 1 – The ACL is mildly damaged or suffered a light stretch.
  • Grade 2 – The ACL has been stretched beyond capacity and has become loose.
  • Grade 3 – The ACL is completely torn from the bone (ruptured). These injuries require surgery.

Although the symptoms below are common to most ACL injuries, they might vary in intensity. 

Knee Instability and Reduced Range of Motion

If your ACL has been torn and loosened, you’ll notice a feeling of instability in the knee, which is made worse by the pain and swelling, thus inhibiting your range of motion. You might also struggle to bear weight on the knee. 

Pain and Swelling

Most ACL tears are accompanied by a “popping” sound at the time of injury and a sharp pain inside the knee. Briefly after this, you are likely to start feeling pain radiating from the affected area, discomfort, and swelling. 

Regenerative Treatment Options for ACL Tears

The prevalence of ACL tears is on the rise, and with it, the number of ACL reconstruction surgeries performed each year. And, given how devastating a knee injury might be, it isn’t surprising that a growing number of patients look for efficient and long-lasting treatments. 

Nonetheless, up to 25% of patients undergoing ligament reconstruction surgery do not see satisfactory improvements, and these interventions come with extended recovery periods as long as 6 months. 

However, surgery is no longer the only option! Regenerative medicine is providing people affected by ACL injuries with non-invasive and effective therapies that leverage the body’s natural healing power to deliver long-lasting results.

Let’s look at the two pillars of regenerative therapies combined at Orthagenex. . 

Concentrated PRP for ACL Tears

Platelet-rich plasma (PRP) treatment refer to a procedure that uses a patient’s own blood (autologous blood) with concentrations of platelets above baseline values (10 – 40 times more platelet concentrations than in “normal” blood). Patients can think of this as a supercharged “espresso shot” of growth factors.

The potential of platelet-rich plasma to kickstart the body’s healing process in the event of an ACL injury has received considerable interest over the past years. This is because this treatment carries the appeal of a simple, safe, and minimally invasive method of supplying growth factors to the injured area.

PRP treatments are a form of regenerative medicine, which means it utilizes the blood’s healing factors to help the body repair itself by injecting PRP into the damaged tissue. In regenerative orthopedics, it can be used to address ACL tears as well as muscle strains, ligament tears, minor arthritis, and joint instability.

Over the past two decades, there have been more than 30 randomized controlled trials of PRP, which have shown the potential of this type of treatment to help the body heal itself by stimulating the regenerative power of stem cells within the targeted area. 

Image Guided Stem Cell Injections for ACL Tears

Stem cells are naturally found in the body and play a vital role in healing injured bone and other tissue such as the ACL. As we get older or injured, the stem cells begin to deteriorate, which can impact their ability to promote healing.

BMC procedures help solve this problem by delivering a high concentration of bone marrow concentrate containing stem cells into the injured ACL area by using imaging guidance, thus aiding your body’s ability to heal naturally. 

BMC – which stands for “bone marrow concentrate” – injections are medical procedures that use a sharp-tipped instrument (known as trocar) to cannulate the bone, commonly in the iliac crest in the hip. This simply provides a small tunnel into the bone so the liquid portion of the bone marrow (known as aspirate) can be removed using a syringe. The aspirate is then processed to increase the concentration of stem cells, and then injected in the knee. 

Thanks to these procedures, patients can avoid the long, painful rehabilitation periods that often follow surgery to restore knee health. 

Healing Your Knee Without Surgery With Orthagenex

The therapies above, coupled with appropriate lifestyle counseling and an ad hoc treatment journey, can help you avoid ACL reconstruction surgeries or delay more invasive interventions. 

If you are ready to learn more about these options, get started by contacting the team of regenerative healthcare specialists at Orthagenex.

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