ACL Injury - Who Should I See About My Torn ACL?

If you suspect that you have torn your Anterior Cruciate Ligament (ACL), it can sometimes be a bit confusing as to who you will need to see about it. There are a number of things that need to happen for you to ensure that your injury is diagnosed correctly, completely, and treated the right way. And there are different medical professionals who have different skills and focus that may assist you in this process.

Here are the key professionals that you will most likely need to see about your torn ACL, with a brief summary of what each of them will do for you and how they can help you:

1. General Practitioner (GP) - Usually where most people go first. The GP, your local family doctor, does have an important role to play. The GP is not necessarily going to be able to diagnose a torn ACL very easily unless they have a particular interest or speciality in orthopaedics or fitness.They will press different parts of your injured knee and ask you questions, but they will not give you a definite diagnosis. Where the doctor really comes in handy is for writing you a referral to get an x-ray and an MRI (Magnetic Resonance Imaging). The x-ray will check for bone damage and the MRI will check for soft tissue damage. The Anterior Cruciate Ligament falls into the soft tissue category which is primarily made up of ligaments, muscles and tendons. You will often find that you can't get a x-ray or MRI without having a written referral. Importantly, you would also need to visit the doctor to get a referral to an orthopaedic specialist.

2. Physiotherapist - Contrary to the understanding of many people, you actually do not always need a referral to see a Physiotherapist. For example, in Australia you certainly don't need a referral. It is suggested that you see a Sports Physiotherapist. They are the ones that see the most patients with this type of injury. So why should you see the Physiotherapist? Well, it is because they will be able to confidently diagnose your knee injury and most of the time can confirm whether or not you have an ACL tear. They will generally conduct 3 movement tests on your knee to check the state of your Anterior Cruciate Ligament. If they determine that your Cruciate Ligament is not torn, they will be able to treat your knee for the existing pain and discomfort. They will guide you through the necessary recovery from whatever the actual injury may be, and you will most likely not have to see anyone else. If the Physiotherapist is unsure, they will send you for an MRI and quite possibly and x-ray at the same time. If they are sure it's a torn ACL, they will explain your options to you, treat your knee for the swelling and discomfort, and suggest you see an orthopaedic specialist if you are interested in an ACL Reconstruction.

3. Radiographer - Quite simply, these are the people that perform the MRI and x-ray on your knee. They will provide you with large film photos of the inside of your knee and write you a report of their findings and observations. It may take a couple of weeks before you can get an appointment and it may take a couple of days to get your photos and report.

4. Orthopaedic Specialist - These are the experts in this area. You will generally need a referral for your first visit to the Orthpaedic Surgeon, though not for subsequent visits. They will confirm whether you have a torn ACL by a combination of the 3 movement tests, asking you how you injured yourself, and of course consulting the MRI and x-ray photos. They will explain in detail the options for ACL Surgery and will give you some idea of the costs. Though it is important to note that there are very few places where you will find out up front exactly what costs you can expect throughout the entire ACL Reconstruction and recovery process. The cost of the ACL Surgery performed by the Orthopaedic Surgeon is certainly going to be your biggest cost.

5. Massage therapist - These are the people you would see in the event that you have stretched or strained muscles during your physical activity and need a massage to either loosen up the muscles or relieve some of the tension in your muscle groups. After having an ACL Reconstruction, you will have a leg that is quite stiff and sore however you need to check with your Orthopaedic Surgeon or Physiotherapist whether it is advisable to have a massage and at what point in your recovery it would be appropriate and safe. Once you are well into your ACL recovery period, seeing a massage therapist can be helpful as you return to physical activity and get back into your sport.

As you come to terms with the possibility of tearing your Anterior Cruciate Ligament and deal with the pain resulting from your injury, it can be overwhelming trying to figure out who you really need to see about the knee injury. It is always advisable to get an injury checked by an appropriate medical professional rather than let it go and hope that all will be well. And as you weigh up the decision over ACL Surgery, ask the medical professionals as many questions as you can and do your research to arm yourself with as much information as you possibly can so that you don't run into any surprises.

For a complete and detailed report about the entire ACL knee reconstruction experience and process, a real case ACL injury, 25 things to help you prepare for surgery, full ACL reconstruction rehab and step by step 5-month recovery program, ACL tear exercises, techniques for strengthening the support muscles, details of how to tape your knee cap the right way, the statistics of ACL surgeries, photos of the knee and scars after surgery, full costs of a knee reconstruction, the dangers to avoid after ACL surgery, tons of tips, lessons and advice, and everything you need to know about the pros and cons of ACL reconstructions from a real practical personal experience, read the Complete ACL Reconstruction & Recovery Guide.

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