Does Your Knee Buckle? You May Have a Torn ACL

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For people who get weak in the knees in the idiomatic sense, they are unsteady on their feet due to an overwhelming feeling of emotions, such as when they swoon after their first kiss with someone they are falling in love with. But when someone is weak in the knees in the medical sense, it can mean a trip to an orthopedic surgeon and—quite possibly—surgery for a torn ACL. Weakness in the knee can cause your knee to buckle, which can make you very unsteady on your feet. Here's what you need to know if you have a knee that sometimes buckles. 

One of the Most Common Knee Injuries

According to the American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons, ACL tears are one of the most common injuries to the knees. ACL stands for anterior cruciate ligament, which is a very important component in knee stabilization. The ACL keeps the tibia (shinbone) from getting in front of the femur (thigh bone). That's why, when the ACL is torn, your knee can suddenly give out, or buckle. 

Athletes and others who routinely pivot on their feet are susceptible to ACL tears. Suddenly changing direction or stopping and landing incorrectly after jumping are two ways an ACL can be torn. Sometimes, a loud popping sound is heard when an ACL tears, but this is not always the case. Sometimes, people experience a bit of swelling and pain for several weeks and then they start feeling better. But don't be fooled. 

ACLs Do Not Repair Themselves 

You may feel better and have no pain after the initial injury, but that does not mean all is well. Once torn, an unrepaired ACL can wreak havoc on the other important ligaments in the knee, which can lead to torn cartilage, particularly a torn meniscus. Any sudden movement, pivoting motion, or simply standing still can cause your knee to buckle and lead to more injury in the knee. 

An ACL tear may or may not require surgery, which largely depends on the lifestyle of the patient, such as if they are an athlete or the injury interferes with work. Whether surgery is recommended or not, you will more than likely need intensive physical therapy. If you believe you have a torn ACL, make an appointment with an orthopedic surgeon. Upon examination of your buckling knee, the surgeon may send you for imaging of your knee. MRIs are particularly useful in showing torn ligaments and cartilages.

For more information, contact companies like El Camino Center for Sports Medicine​.