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Can You Walk with a Torn ACL?

Posted on: March 21st, 2023 by Our Team

A loud “popping” sound or sensation in the knee after an injury, severe pain, rapid swelling, and a feeling of knee instability are common signs and symptoms of a torn ACL.  Can you walk with a torn ACL? The short answer is yes. After the pain and swelling subsides and if there is no other injury to your knee, you may be able to walk in straight lines, go up and down stairs and even potentially jog in a straight line.

The ACL (anterior cruciate ligament) is an important ligament that provides stability to the knee. It plays a crucial role when making sudden stops while running, changing direction, cutting, pivoting or jumping.

Risk factors for an ACL injury include being female (possibly due to differences in anatomy and hormonal influences), sports such as skiing, soccer, basketball, or poor conditioning.

If your physician okays walking after an ACL tear, you should avoid turning, twisting, or pivoting on the knee. This can lead to buckling or giving way of the knee and adding damage to the knee cartilage. It should also be noted that people diagnosed with a torn ACL are at a higher risk for developing knee osteoarthritis, which can severely limit activities and quality of life.

For athletes and those with active lifestyles, getting the ACL surgically reconstructed may be necessary without which they could not return to their game or previous level of activity.

The knee is a very complex structure consisting of many ligaments, tendons, cartilage, bones, and other soft tissues working together in harmony. Any suspected injury to the ACL should be evaluated by your doctor or an orthopedic knee specialist for appropriate diagnosis and treatment.

Dr. Ronak Patel is a Board-Certified Orthopedic Surgeon offering a full range of care for all problems of the knee and shoulder with a special interest in complex knee disorders. Book your appointment with Dr. Patel today: (630) 929-2249.


At a Glance

Ronak M. Patel M.D.

  • Double Board-Certified, Fellowship-Trained Orthopaedic Surgeon
  • Past Team Physician to the Cavaliers (NBA), Browns (NFL) and Guardians (MLB)
  • Published over 49 publications and 10 book chapters
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