It’s not an uncommon scenario. An athlete is sailing through the air or making a quick turn when all of a sudden he or she hears a “pop” in the knee. An athlete who experiences this followed by sudden pain and swelling often receives the much-feared diagnosis of an anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) tear.
“Young, growing athletes are at high risk for ACL injuries, so it is important to work with coaches, trainers and medical professionals to minimize the risk of injury today, as well as the likelihood of reinjury or arthritis many years from now,” said Dr. Paul Sherbondy, an orthopedic surgeon at Penn State Health Medical Group – Park Avenue in State College.
According to Sherbondy, the ACL is one of the four major ligaments in the knee and the most commonly injured. It connects the thigh bone to the shin bone and helps stabilize the knee joint. ACL injuries range from a mild overextension to a full tear. “Anyone who has injured this ligament is at higher risk for reinjury, as well as early-onset osteoarthritis of the knee,” he said.