How to Know if Your ACL is Torn or Sprained

The anterior cruciate ligament (more commonly known as the ACL) extends diagonally across the center of the knee. It keeps the tibia from moving too far forward and prevents excessive knee rotations. Considering this ligament’s essential role in knee stability, ACL injuries can be devastating. 

Tears and sprains are among the most prevalent injuries to affect the ACL. But, they can be hard to differentiate, especially in the early stages. In this article, we’ll discuss how to know if your ACL is torn or sprained, and how to take the next steps toward healing. 

ACL Tears vs. ACL Sprains

ACL sprains occur when the ACL becomes overstretched, but doesn’t tear. An ACL tear is a more severe injury that occurs when, as the name suggests, the ligament fully or partially tears. ACL injuries, including tears and sprains, are graded from 1 to 3:

  • Grade 1 occurs when the ligament is minimally stretched with microscopic tearing. This is referred to as an ACL sprain. 
  • Grade 2 occurs when the ligament is partially torn, with some separation of the ligament fibers and moderate instability of the knee joint. 
  • Grade 3 occurs when the ACL fully tears, causing knee instability. Knee surgery is often needed for grade 3 ACL injuries. 

The symptoms of ACL tears and sprains are similar and may include:

  • Pain on the back and outside of the knee
  • Swelling of the knee within a few hours of the injury
  • Reduced range of motion and limited knee movement
  • Pain while walking or a feeling of the knee “giving out” while walking
  • An audible pop or popping sensation in the knee

With a tear, these symptoms are typically more severe than a sprain. 

The best way to determine if your ACL is torn or sprained is to undergo a thorough evaluation by a trained medical professional. Your physician may determine that regenerative therapies, like stem cell or PRP therapy, are suitable to support the body’s healing process and stimulate tissue regeneration. To learn more, browse the Regenerative Medicine Now database today!

Mira Swave, MD

Contributor at Regenerative Medicine Now

Mira Swave, M.D. is a specialist in the field of Regenerative Medicine.
Share the knowledge

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Get our newsletter for the latest news & updates.

Share the knowledge: