How to Identify an ACL Tear

Many sportsman dread the thought of having to go through with an ACL repair. The anterior cruciate ligament, or ACL, is a ligament located between the femur and tibia in your knee. It is responsible for most leg movement around the knee. This injury is relatively common among groups of people involved in sports or labor that requires excessive legwork.

How to Identify an ACL Tear

The Symptoms           

The specific location of the ACL can make it difficult to identify the symptoms of a tear. The most common symptom comes in the form of a loud pop during movement. This popping may cause swelling and pain, which will prevent you from continuing whatever activity you are doing.

The Causes

The most common ways the ligament can be torn is by repetitive and improper leg use. There can either be an uneven dominance placed on a certain leg or a muscle group in the legs. The asymmetry causes unnecessary stress to the ligament over time and creates an environment for damage.

Reliance on the strength of a specific muscle group, such as the quadriceps, at the expense of a related muscle group, in this case the hamstrings, can cause damage to the ACL. This is because there will be an uneven distribution of stress over the leg which will reduce stability.

Over time, the stress will cause the sufferer of an ACL tear to rely more on the damaged leg and overexert themselves to make up for a loss of performance due to pain. The excess stress will exacerbate the problem and lead to chronic pain.

Another cause of an ACL tear is trauma to the leg around the knee area. This trauma can occur during a car accident, or in a sport such as football.


The tear will most likely be identified by way of an MRI that can identify damage to the ligaments between the bones. After the MRI has identified the problem, your doctor will recommend treatment to start the ACL repair process.

The most common treatment for an ACL tear involves managing knee movement and trying to create a better distribution to help the knee heal. This will mean plenty of physical therapy aimed at increasing strength and stability of the muscles around the knee. The doctor will more than likely recommend a knee brace as well to help keep the knee stable during waking hours.

For those who participate in sports,the tear can make it almost impossible to continue playing. The pain associated with the injury, paired with the general instability of the knee, won’t allow for most athletic movements needed for sports.

Due to the nature of an ACL tear, a doctor will usually recommend surgery as a course of treatment. After surgery is done, however, the patient will have to stay out of sports activities for months while rehabbing the knee.

Overall, among similar sports, women are more likely to experience the injury than men. The reason for this correlation is unknown, however women who participate in such sports as soccer and basketball that require jolted leg movements and jumping should consider the possibility of an ACL repair if symptoms are present.

If you feel like you have an ACL injury, seek medical attention, and have them recommend your best course of action.


How to Identify a Rotator Cuff Tear

A rotator cuff tear is a common injury that is caused by constant overhead motions. Many times it may be asymptomatic, but it can be a source of restricted movement and constant shoulder pain. Often the restricted movement is not noticeable as the pain associated with this movement can be minimal. These symptoms can affect your day to day life in significant ways, especially if your work or hobby requires movement of your shoulders.

How to Identify a Rotator Cuff Tear

The Causes

The most common sources of a rotator cuff injuries come from constant overhead motions. These overhead motions are involved in constant lifting or jerking motions such as those involved in sports. As such, the injury is more likely for those who play sports that involve throwing or hitting a ball, such as baseball and tennis. It is also fairly common for those who place their shoulder in constant movement under resistance, such as in swimming.

Finally, any sort of work that involves lifting things overhead throughout the day can be the cause of a rotator cuff tear. This means people such as carpenters, painters, and others whose jobs involve physical labor are prone to these injuries. Due to their sometimes asymptomatic nature, tears can go unnoticed for years until the problem worsens to the point of causing pain.

The Diagnosis

The rotator cuff tear will be identified by viewing an x-ray. The tear itself can take place in one or more of the tendons within four muscles that are in the shoulder. These muscles are collectively known as the rotator cuff muscles. The tear can be easily identified through an x-ray as the tendons will appear inflamed or enlarged.

Tears can also cause other symptoms that may appear unnoticeable to the person who is suffering from the tear. These symptoms include a strange gate or incomplete movement of the shoulder. There will also be poor blood supply to the region, especially in older people who have had a tear over time. A rotator cuff tear with these symptoms is usually referred to as a chronic tear.

Acute tears are caused by sudden jerking motions. These tears often occur in car accidents and other sudden and unexpected forces, although the force that causes the tear can also be light or modest. An acute tear can cause immediate pain, although the onset of the pain may also be delayed. That can be why you don’t feel the full effects of a car accident until a day or two later.

The nature of a rotator cuff tear can affect many aspects of your lifestyle if your hobbies or work require free shoulder movement. If you are experiencing any sort of pain or discomfort in your shoulder and your lifestyle makes you more susceptible to tearing your rotator cuff, you should go and get your shoulder checked. A doctor will be able to diagnose the problem with a quick x-ray and put you on a program that can lead to the end of your shoulder pain.

6 of the Most Injury-Causing Amateur Sports

Life carries inherent risks. Even if you never left your house, given enough time, you’d sustain some sort of injury, no matter how minor. The key is to minimize risk while still enjoying life and living an active lifestyle.

Participation in sports is a great way to build skills, get exercise, and stay healthy. Still, some sports are riskier than others. The list below details some of the amateur sports with the highest injury rates in the U.S., based on data from sports medicine physicians and insurance adjustors. All of these can still be enjoyed; just be sure to take appropriate precautions.

Members Of Female High School Soccer Playing Match


As America’s favorite full-contact sport, football has earned a dubious place among sports with the most injuries. Although concussions in football have gotten a lot of mention in the press lately, they are by no means the only type of injury suffered. Knee trauma, such as tears of the ligaments and meniscus, are not infrequent. Also, shoulder injuries like rotator cuff tears are a common occurrence. As one might imagine, most of these injuries are sustained while tackling or being tackled by another player.


This entry on the list might be surprising to some. Cheerleading is certainly not a violent sport, but it does involve heights and acrobatic feats. Plus, it’s extremely popular, so there are many participants and more chances for injuries to occur. In addition to concussions, cheerleaders most frequently sustain damage to the knees, ankles, and feet.


Soccer matches can be intense, especially when emotions flare. Although certainly not as violent as hockey or boxing, soccer players sustain both intentional and accidental injuries. Not surprisingly, many of these are to the knee areas. Groin injuries are also seen with some frequency. Just like with football, soccer players should always wear the maximum amount of protective gear allowed.


Basketball is not designed to be a contact sport, but accidents happen. Basketball players frequently collide on the court, which can result in injuries to both parties. Furthermore, the high jumps and trick shots can lead to trauma. The most common types of damage suffered by basket players are injuries to the feet, ankles, and knees.


America’s pastime isn’t known for being a violent sport, with the exception of the occasional bench-clearing brawl among professional teams. Still, every year, thousands of amateur baseball players end up in sports medicine clinics with injuries from their chosen game. The vast majority of these injuries result from being hit by the ball. A baseball is a hard object, and, when pitched at over 90 mph, can be very unforgiving.


Since the object of boxing is to actually hurt your opponent, it should be no surprise that boxing carries a high injury rate. While acute concussions and post-concussive syndrome, or “punch drunk,” are always a problem, boxers also suffer hematomas, abdominal injuries, and facial fractures. If one is going to engage in this sport, be sure to always be checked by a physician before and after a fight and wear a mouthguard and other protective equipment.

Why Surgeons Want to Avoid Surgery in Sports Medicine

When you’re an athlete, an eventual injury is almost inevitable. Whether you participate in a full-contact sport like football or just do gentle yoga, the risk of injury from accident or overuse is always present. When you see your sports medicine professional, don’t be surprised if they don’t immediately recommend surgery to address your injury.

Orthopedic Surgeons Avoid Surgery in Sports Medicine.jpg

It may be odd to think of someone avoiding the very thing they’re trained for. A pilot who doesn’t want to fly or an architect who is reluctant to design buildings would certainly raise some eyebrows. The thing is, surgeons are—first and foremost—healthcare providers. Their goal is to maintain your quality of life for as long as possible. While some injuries may very well require some surgery to repair, a good surgeon will try an appropriate conservative measure first.

What are Conservative Measures?

Conservative measures are noninvasive treatment methods used in an attempt to improve your condition without surgery. They can consist of the following.

  • Medications: Pain medications and anti-inflammatories may be prescribed by your sports medicine provider in Denver. These medicines can ease your pain and reduce swelling. They’re often prescribed for short-term problems or mild irritations of the joints.
  • Rest: This is the simplest conservative measure. A lot of sports injuries result from simply overdoing it. If your sports medicine provider wants you to take it easy for a while, listen to them. It might prevent further, more severe injury.
  • Ice/Heat: The proper application of ice and/or heat to an injured area can help with swelling, range of motion, and pain. Sometimes this is all it takes to get you back to 100 percent after a mild injury.
  • Bracing: With repetitive stress injuries like tennis elbow and carpal tunnel syndrome, a brace is sometimes prescribed to help ease symptoms. Be sure to wear your brace as instructed to gain the maximum benefit.
  • Physical Therapy: A course of physical therapy with a qualified therapist is often recommended by Denver sports medicine providers. If improvement can be made during physical therapy, surgery can sometimes be avoided or postponed.


Benefits of Conservative Measures

So, what’s so great about avoiding surgery, anyway? While surgery is almost always unavoidable for certain injuries, like complete ACL tears in the knee and ruptured biceps tendons, it’s usually not the preferred method of dealing with sports injuries. For one, surgery carries a longer downtime than conservative measures. Your surgical recovery period means no training for a while and a reduced training regimen for even longer.

Another factor is that surgery never comes with an absolute guarantee. Each case is unique, and even an experienced, highly-trained surgeon cannot promise a certain outcome. Therefore, it’s possible that, even with surgery, your injury may never completely return to normal. Surgery is simply another treatment modality, not a magic fix.

So, even if you eventually need surgery for a sports injury, expect your sports medicine provider to try some conservative treatments first. With luck and adherence to their advice, you might be able to avoid surgery altogether.

Helpful Exercises to Do After Orthopedic Knee Surgery

After you have had an orthopedic knee surgery to repair damage from an injury or overuse, you will have follow-up appointments to check on your healing, including your knee strength and range of motion. As part of the care provided by your specialist in orthopedics and sports medicine, such as those in Steadman Hawkins Clinic Denver, you will participate in physical therapy to help restore the optimal range of movement of your knee. The therapy and other physical activity can help you regain your previous level of physical activity more quickly than you would if you did not do any exercise.

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