An ACL Tear: Options for ACL Repair and Rehabilitation


It’s the injury all athletes dread: a literal and figurative pain in the knee! An ACL tear comes with competing and with sports involving sudden motion and twists from various different sports related factors, including rapid change of direction, sudden stopping, an incorrect landing from a jump, or direct contact like being slammed by a large linebacker in a spectacular football tackle. As one of the most common forms of knee pain and injury, the anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) tear is dogged.  An ACL tear is an injury no one wants.

Many of the highly in-demand major-league team sports (football, soccer or basketball) seem synonymous with ACL tears. Athletes involved in these are the ones most likely to experience ACL injuries, and thus require ACL repair and rehabilitation. What’s less common knowledge is that women are more likely than men to experience an ACL tear.

If you’ve been fortunate enough to avoid one to date, you may wonder exactly what an ACL tear is and what impact it can have on you.  An ACL tear occurs when the anterior cruciate ligament — which is found inside the knee joint and controls the back and forth motion of the knee — is stretched too far, resulting in the ligament partially or fully tearing.

The most common symptom of an ACL tear includes pain and swelling at the knee, which may go away if untreated. The problem is however, that avoidance of treatment can promote further injury, which is why merely ignoring it and returning to sports after the swelling has gone away is a very bad idea!! Pain or discomfort when walking, as well as a loss of your full range of motion or joint tenderness are also common symptoms that may indicate an ACL tear. These are also good signals that attention is needed!

An ACL tear is graded on a scale from one to three, “one” meaning the ligament has been stretched slightly, and “three” meaning a full tear. This grading system helps to determine what type of ACL repair is necessary and to then navigate the best approach to rehabilitation.

Does an ACL tear require surgery? Not necessarily. The nature of ACL repair and rehabilitation depends on a variety of factors, including the grade of the injury, age of the patient, or their activity level. For example, a child with a partial ACL tear may require non-surgical treatment that allows them to regain the use of their knee to its pre-injury state.  Non-surgical ACL repair and rehabilitation methods include progressive physical therapy, rehab, and/or the continued use of a knee brace.

Surgical ACL repair is necessary for some people, like the active adult who suffers from a full tear.  In this case surgical ACL repair is needed in order to rebuild the knee and to avoid any future injuries that may result from leaving the ACL tear untreated.

A professionally trained sports medicine or ACL injury specialist is equipped to charter the best course for repairing an ACL tear. An ACL specialist can perform rehab and therapy when a non-surgical treatment is chosen and also offer post-operative ACL repair rehabilitation to promote full recovery. Whether you choose surgical or non-surgical ACL repair, it’s the ACL injury specialist who offers a program customized to fit your unique needs.

Don’t suffer with ACL tear pain and inconvenience! To find out more about our surgical and non-surgical ACL tear repair and rehabilitation, contact Athletic Edge Sports Medicine by calling (416) 800-0800, or visit