Dr. Gary Willstein uses the knee model in clinic today to explain to a patient about the role of the ACL, Anterior Cruciate Ligament. The ACL is one of the four ligaments in the knee joint that provides stabilization. It crosses from front to back across the knee joint, connecting the tibia (shin) bone to the femur (thigh) bone. An ACL tear or sprain occurs with a sudden change in direction or pivot against a locked knee, an awkward landing, or out of control play. It is a somewhat common injury as we move in to the active basketball and skiing season. At the time of the injury, signs and symptoms may include: a loud pop sound, severe pain, knee swelling, a feeling of instability or giving way with weight bearing. Dr. Willstein performs manual tests of the knee to start the assessment and if he suspects an ACL tear he will order an MRI. Approximately half of ACL injuries also involve damage to the meniscus, articular cartilage, or other ligaments www.aaos.org. Treatment includes bracing, physical therapy and surgery depending on the severity of the injury. Dr. Willstein has surgical technique options depending on the patient’s clinical assessment. He may use a patellar tendon graft, a hamstring tendon graft, or an allograft (tendon from a cadaver). The ACL recovery process after surgery is lengthy. Most athletes will require 6-8 months (up to 12 months) of intensive physical therapy before they can return to their sport. The length of recovery is so important to limit your risk of re-injury. Dr. Willstein specializes in the surgical repair of ACL injuries with successful outcomes.