Anterior Cruciate Ligament (ACL) Tear
Table of Contents
What is the Anterior Cruciate Ligament (ACL)?
The Anterior Cruciate Ligament (ACL) is a tissue that connects the thigh bone to the shinbone and controls the front and back motion of the knee. It provides rotational control and stability by limiting forward movement of the thigh bone on the shin bone. Without an intact ACL, the knee may feel loose and wobbly.
An ACL tear is a common knee injury that occurs during sports with sudden twisting motions and changes in direction. When the ACL tears, the anterior cruciate ligament sprains or splits from the bone attachments.
What Are ACL Tear Symptoms?
When you tear your ACL, you may hear a popping sound. Other symptoms may follow, such as:
- Swelling in the knee
- Pain and tenderness at the joint
- Loss of full range of motion
- A feeling of instability, especially when weight is put on the joint
What Causes an ACL Tear?
It is more common for ACL tears to occur during sports activities when the knee is vulnerable to injury. Certain movements can cause an ACL tear including:
- Sudden change in direction
- Suddenly stopping
- Landing from a jump
- Getting into an impactful collision directly on the knee
Sports such as soccer, basketball and tennis have a higher risk of tearing the ACL.
What Are the Risk Factors of an ACL Tear?
While anyone can injure their knee and experience an ACL tear, certain factors may increase the risk of the ligament injury. These include:
- Female: Women tend to tear their ACL more often than men, and this may be due to differences in muscle conditioning, anatomy and strength.
- High-risk sports: Participating in certain sports like basketball, soccer, skiing, and volleyball requires movements that could tear the ACL.
- Previously torn ACL: A torn and treated ACL has a higher risk of re-tearing.
How Do You Prevent an ACL Tear?
Even though ACL tears are common, they can be prevented through strength training and learning good exercise techniques. Some examples include:
- Strengthening the core muscles
- Practising proper landing techniques
- Strengthening leg muscles
- Good warm-up practices
What Should You Do if You Think You Have Torn Your ACL?
If you suspect you have torn your ACL, stop all physical activities and keep weight off your leg by sitting down. Make an appointment immediately with your orthopaedic specialist or medical provider. Keep your leg raised above chest level until then, and ice the area if you notice swelling. Refrain from putting pressure on your knees and take over-the-counter pain medication to manage the discomfort.
If you are currently experiencing knee pain and joint pain, and wish to seek treatment, contact our clinic to schedule an appointment. Seeking treatment early allows our doctor to appropriately diagnose and treat your knee condition, preventing potential further complications.
How is an ACL Tear Diagnosed?
According to MOH’s fee guideline, a knee replacement surgery costs an average of $36,000 at a private hospital. This fee is calculated before deducting your personal insurance plans (Integrated Shield Plans, Medishield Life) and MediSave payouts. The maximum MediSave payout you can obtain for a simple knee replacement surgery is $4,650.
Dr Kau is on the panel for most major local insurers. Talk to our team and your insurance agent to understand the out-of-pocket fees required for a knee replacement surgery.
What Are the Grades of an ACL Injury?
An ACL injury is classified into a three-class grading system that signifies the severity of the injury. Grade 1 injuries are the least severe, while Grade 3 injuries are the most severe. Depending on the grade, treatment for the ACL tear may vary.
Grade 1: The ligament is slightly stretched but not torn and can still maintain the knee’s stability.
Grade 2: The ligament is partially torn and loose
Grade 3: The ACL is completely torn and split into two, making the knee unstable.
What Are the Complications of an ACL Tear?
An ACL tear can increase the risk of developing knee osteoarthritis even after surgical treatment. It is also possible for the joint cartilage to deteriorate, and the range of motion may be minimised.
What Happens if a Torn ACL Goes Untreated?
Not all ACL injuries require surgical treatment. Grade 1 ACL tears are usually treated with physical therapy and immobilisation.
However, if a torn ACL goes untreated, it may lead to:
- Bleeding and blood clots that can worsen the condition
- Ongoing severe pain
- Weakness in the knees
- Reduced mobility
It is important to make an appointment with an orthopaedic specialist to understand the best treatment plan for your ACL injury.
How is an ACL Tear Treated?
Depending on the severity of the injury, your age, and activity level, the treatment for an ACL tear may vary. There are both non-surgical and surgical treatment options to fix ACL tears.
Non-surgical treatment is usually recommended for patients with a partial ACL tear and no instability or painful symptoms. A non-surgical option may also be given to patients who are older or live a less active lifestyle.
Non-surgical treatments include:
- Physical therapy & rehabilitation
- Knee brace support
Surgery is recommended for athletes who want to return to their sport or if the ACL is completely torn and other ligaments are injured, causing significant discomfort. Young children with ACL tears are also recommended to opt for surgical treatment, as delayed treatments can lead to more cartilage injuries in the future.
ACL reconstruction is done through a knee arthroscopy and requires a graft to replace the torn ACL. This graft can be harvested from the patient’s own hamstring or patellar tendon. Alternatively, a graft can also be taken from a tissue donor. After the surgery, crutches or a walking aid should be used in the first 2-4 weeks, and a knee brace is required in the first 6 weeks.
Patients will also undergo regular rehabilitative therapy after the procedure to restore strength and stability in the injured knee.
If you are experiencing joint pain and suspect you may be suffering from conditions related to the knee, hip, shoulder, spine, foot, ankle, elbow, wrist, or hand – allow Dr Kau to set you on the path towards recovery. Our orthopaedic specialist, Dr Kau Chung Yuan is experienced in treating patients of all ages with varying orthopaedic conditions. You should not have to be in pain, make your appointment today.
What is the Cost of ACL Surgery in Singapore?
According to MOH’s fee guideline, knee arthroscopy ACL surgery costs an average of $30,000 at a private hospital. This fee is calculated before deducting your personal insurance plans (Integrated Shield Plans, Medishield Life) and MediSave payouts. The maximum MediSave payout you can obtain for a knee arthroscopy is $3,950.
Dr Kau is on the panel for most major local insurers. Talk to our team and your insurance agent to understand the out-of-pocket fees required for a knee arthroscopy.
Frequently Asked Questions
If an ACL tear is not treated, it can lead to the loss of joint function in the future.
A complete ACL tear cannot heal on its own and requires surgery. If the ACL tear is less severe, it is still important to consult an orthopaedic specialist for a recommended non-surgical treatment plan.
After an ACL reconstruction surgery, recovery can take 9 months
Does My Medisave and Insurance Cover ACL Surgery in Singapore?
Our surgeon, Dr Kau, is on the panel for most major local insurers. For more information as to whether patients will be able to claim the cost of ACL surgery in Singapore, speak to our team today, and we can guide you through the claims process.
Dr Kau was very careful and explained clearly the surgery procedures. After surgery, the care while I was in hospital was closely monitored and he even came during weekends! The hip so far has recovered and healed. His ‘predictions’ of when what can happen are so accurate. Trust him.Ming Lee Chua
Dr. Kau is an exemplary doctor who is experienced in his field and is very patient with his patients. He walked me through the details of my knee condition and addressed all my concerns. Thanks to Dr. Kau, I had a better understanding of my ACL and MCL injury and the various treatment options available. His advice and treatment have been very valuable to me.Ethan Chan
I had a very successful total hip replacement done by Dr Kau 4 years ago. 4 months after the operation I was back walking, cycling and swimming. The beautiful job gave me much confidence Dr Kau is most professional and has such great doctor patient communication.Teo Pek Suan Diana
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