Sports Medicine: ACL Injuries

A Spine Center physician reviews an X-ray.

ACL Injuries

What are ACL injuries?

Your anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) connects the long bone of your thigh — your femur — with your shinbone — your tibia. Anterior refers to the ligament’s forward position among a group of ligaments that form an “x” (the cruciate part of the name) inside your knee joint and control the back and forth action of your knee. The ACL itself holds the tibia in place, preventing it from sliding out in front of the thighbone; it also makes sure your knee remains stable when it rotating. One of the most common causes of knee pain, injuries to your ACL can include sprains, stretches, partial tears, and complete tears.


If you hear or feel a “popping” sensation in your knee, have your knee give out from under you, and experience knee swelling as well, it’s possible that you’ve damaged your ACL. Your knee may also lose its range of motion, and you may feel tenderness in the joint. Walking may be painful or uncomfortable.


Suddenly stopping or changing direction can injure your ACL, as can landing from a jump incorrectly or slowing down too fast when you are running. Think of the ACL as a flexible fence guarding the intersection of the joint: these kinds of sudden actions use a lot of forceful pressure, and that pressure can break through the fence. ACL injuries are especially common among athletes who participate in sports such as soccer, football, and basketball that rely on these kinds of quick-adjustment movements. Female athletes are more susceptible to these kinds of injuries than men are; the proposed reasons are differences in pelvis and leg alignment and ligament tension.


“Because ACL injuries are so common, sports medicine practitioners in particular are familiar with their many presentations,” says William Sayde, MD, an orthopedic physician at OINJ. “The first thing a doctor will do is take a medical history, find out when the injury occurred, and do a physical exam. Your injured knee will be compared to your healthy knee, and an MRI might be required to see the extent of the damage, or to see if there is other tissue involved. An X-ray might be done to rule out bone involvement. We would also need to see the extent of the damage, which can range from a simple sprain, or stretch, of the ACL to a full tear, which completely destabilizes the knee.”

“Treatment options have a range that corresponds to the degree of the injury and your level of activity, with the goals of stabilizing and strengthening your knee so it can bear the level of activity that will be required of it. A tear will not heal itself without surgery, but rest, bracing, and physical therapy would probably suffice for a non-athlete with a minor sprain. If you have a complete tear and you are an athlete, surgery will most likely be required,” says Rehan Shamim, MD, another orthopedic physician at OINJ. “During the procedure, your surgeon would reconstruct your ligament, which is now generally done with arthroscopic surgery. This minimally invasive procedure means less pain and shorter recovery time. However, don’t expect to be back on the playing field right away; the ligament would have to regrow, and physical therapy will be required along the way.”

Why Choose The Orthopedic Institute of New Jersey

At OINJ, board certified physicians work collaboratively to come up with the best solutions for you. Using innovative techniques and the most up-to-date research and technologies available, our specialists have one goal: to get you back into the best of orthopedic health. We work with each other, as well as with other partners in your care, to develop the treatment plan that will work for you.

Our multiple office locations that can be reached by one centralized call center make it easy to schedule and get to appointments, and we treat patients of all ages with injuries and orthopedic conditions of all kinds.

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Featured Physicians

William Sayde, MD – Orthopedic Physician

Dr. Sayde completed his sports medicine fellowship at MedStar Union Memorial Hospital in Baltimore and at MedStar Washington Hospital Center in Washington, DC. He did his residency in orthopedic surgery at Thomas Jefferson University Hospital in Philadelphia. He earned both his bachelor’s and medical degrees from an accelerated combined scientist/physician BS/MD program at Rennselaer Polytechnic Institute in Troy, New York and Albany Medical College.

Before joining OINJ, Dr. Sayde served as assistant team physician for the Baltimore Ravens, the Washington Nationals, and the Morgan State University and Towson University teams in 2014 and 2015.

Rehan Syed Shamim, MD – Orthopedic Physician

Dr. Shamim held his fellowship in orthopedic sports medicine at the UCLA Medical Center. He completed his residency in orthopedic surgery at the University of Pennsylvania Health System and Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia. He received his medical degree from Rutgers Robert Wood Johnson Medical School, where he was president of his medical school class. Dr. Shamim earned his undergraduate degree in economics from Princeton University.

Before joining OINJ, Dr. Shamim served as assistant team physician for the UCLA Bruins, where he treated many Olympic, professional, and NCAA Division I athletes. His areas of expertise include shoulder and knee injuries and arthroscopic and open surgery of the shoulder, knee, and hip.

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The Orthopedic Institute of New Jersey is a premier multi-disciplinary center offering complete orthopedic care, rehabilitation and pain management services to patients of all ages and activity levels using a customized treatment plan to fit individual needs.

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