Understanding Knee Ligaments

The knee is comprised of 4 ligaments that hold the bones together, including collateral ligaments and cruciate ligaments. The collateral ligaments are located at the side of the knee while the cruciate ligaments are deep inside the knee. Anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) injury is classified into 3 stages and partial ACL tear belongs to stages 1 and 2. ACL tears occur as a result of a trauma or injury due to sports or accidents.

Grading of tears

The ACL tears are divided into grades 1, 2, and 3. Grade 1 tear is mild and stability of the knee joint is present. Grade 2 injury is when the ACL is stretched and partially damaged. Grade 3 is a complete ACL tear due to a completely torn ligament with no stability of the knee joint.

Signs and symptoms

Depending on the grade of the tear, a patient’s symptoms will vary. The common symptoms include pain, tenderness, knee swelling, instability of the knee, and a popping sensation in the knee. Severe injury of the ligament may cause the inability to bear weight on the leg. Some may also experience loss of range of motion of the knee and discomfort while walking.

The management of partial ACL tears

Partial ACL tears without instability are better treated conservatively as the ligament is not severely damaged. The conservative options include rest, ice, physical therapy, rehabilitation, and bracing. If there is some instability in the joint, some doctors may recommend surgery. Otherwise, surgery is reserved for ligaments that are completely torn and do not give stability to the knee joint.

Selective reconstruction

A study found that selective reconstruction for partial ACL tears showed positive outcomes. This type of surgery has been shown to improve the stability of the knee. The study further concluded the majority of the patients were able to recover quickly after the reconstruction.

Introducing regenerative medicine

One of the alternative management options is the use of regenerative medicine to treat partial ACL tears. Stem cell therapy has been studied and applied for the treatment of partial ACL tears. This type of therapy is a minimally invasive and non-surgical procedure where stem cells are injected into the affected area. The complications of stem cell therapy are minimal compared to surgical treatment.

The outcome of stem cell therapy

Stem cell therapy has proven to show positive clinical outcomes in healing and repairing partially torn ligaments. Compared to surgery, regenerative medicine provides a much faster recovery. However, not all patients are a candidate for stem cell therapy. The healthcare provider will recommend the best treatment for a partial ACL tear. Speak to a healthcare specialist about stem cell therapy and ask about the risks and benefits.