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Can You Walk With A Torn Acl? A Frequently Asked Question

There is a common question that many people ask: Can you walk with a torn ACL? It may occur to athletes who play sports such as football, basketball, soccer, and volleyball, as well as to those who work in physical jobs. Due to their fast and sometimes unpredictable movements, athletes are more likely to suffer an ACL tear than those who do not play sports. In particular, this is true for athletes who participate in contact sports.

It is possible to treat the condition surgically or nonsurgically. In most cases, a person recovers from an ACL tear within six to nine months. You might experience additional pain and damage to your ACL if you walk too soon after an injury to your ACL. It is possible to walk on an ACL that has been torn after several weeks of rehabilitation, depending on the severity of your injury. A healthcare provider will however be able to diagnose your injury and determine the best course of treatment for you.

What Is The Acl Tear And Its Types?

An ACL tear happens when the anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) in the middle of the knee tears. The ligament may be partially torn (a small tear) or completely torn (two pieces of the ligament are torn). You will experience pain if you tear your ACL. If your knee gives out (collapses or buckles), you may hear or feel a pop. In most cases, your knee will begin to swell immediately following the injury. Depending on the severity of the injury, your healthcare provider may grade it on a scale from one to three:

Grade One: In spite of the stretching of your ligament, your knee joint continues to be stabilized.

Grade Two: The ligament has been stretched and loosened. There's a partial tear in the ligament. It is a rare grade.

Grade Three: Apparently, your ligament has been torn in two. It is a very serious injury. Sometimes, ACL tears occur as a result of injuries to collateral ligaments, joint capsules, articular cartilage, or menisci (cartilage pads).

ACL Tear Symptoms

ACL tears are more common among women than men because of genetic differences in female muscle elasticity and skeletal anatomy, specifically a narrower intercondylar notch (at the end of the femur) as well as a wider pelvis. 

As a result, they have a greater Q angle (the angle at which the femur meets the tibia within the knee). Due to this fact, it is important to recognize the symptoms of an ACL tear as quickly as possible to ensure that you do not walk around with a torn ligament. Symptoms include:

  • Sharp stabbing pain in knee that comes and goes

  • Grinding sensation in your kneecap or bones

  • Knee deformity

  • Knee pain when walking

  • Rapid swelling

  • Stinging pain on outside of knee while walking

  • Range of motion loss

  • Bruising around the knee

  • When you put weight on your knee, it feels loose, as if it may buckle

  • Acl injuries can cause a "popping" sensation or even a "pop".

ACL Tear Diagnosis

If you experience any of these symptoms, you should seek medical attention immediately. As a result of a diagnosis, you may expect the following.

  • Physical Exam

Your doctor will examine any visible bruises and manipulate your knee to identify where your pain originates. He or she will also ask you questions regarding when this pain began and the severity of the pain. Richardson pain management works with patients to identify potential risk factors associated with their unique lifestyle which could be contributing to torn ACL.

  • Expert Referral

At Pain Management Fort Worth, a general practitioner diagnoses a problem with your knee ligaments, he or she may refer you to an orthopedic surgeon and/or physical therapist for further treatment.

  • Imaging Scans

The bones and soft tissues of your body may be examined using X-rays or MRIs (magnetic resonance imaging). As a result of these images, your physician can determine the extent of your injury and recommend a course of treatment.

Rehabilitation After Acl Surgery

  • It is imperative that you follow the instructions of your surgeon following ACL reconstruction surgery in order to allow your knee to heal properly. Performing the wrong type of exercise too soon after surgery can cause your graft to re-tear or stretch.

  • Following surgery, knee braces usually stay on for six weeks. Initially, the brace locks in place to keep the knee straight. When your quadriceps muscles become stronger, your therapist will unlock the brace.

  • Immediately following surgery, you will use crutches until you are able to bear full weight on your leg within your pain tolerance. The graft's source may, however, affect the timing of weight bearing.

  • The first week following surgery is an ideal time to perform range-of-motion exercises. The first step is to remove your brace and gently bend your knee. It is necessary to perform a stretch if your knee does not appear to be fully straight to prevent permanent stiffness. Pain management physicians are always available to guide you on how to recover fully after ACL surgery.

Can You Walk With A Torn Acl? Do You Want To Know?

The answer is: The possibility of walking with a torn ACL can occasionally exist, but it should not be attempted.

  • Several people, especially professional athletes and sports players, suffer from a high pain tolerance, so high that they may attempt to "walk off" serious injuries such as ligament tears. If you have an ACL tear, you should avoid moving around excessively as the more you move, the more damage you will do to the ligament. It is possible for a minor, partial ACL tear to develop into a complete tear that requires a complete replacement of the ligament, often performed by harvesting connective tissue from other areas of the body, such as your hamstrings (at the back of your thighs).

  • A mild injury to the ACL may require you to walk with crutches or a cane or to wear a brace. It will depend on the nature of the injury and your response to rehabilitative therapy and how long it will take for you to be able to walk unassisted and stable. The recovery period following surgery is not predetermined. In accordance with the Cleveland Clinic, physical therapy can begin within a week of surgery.

  • After 12 to 16 weeks, you may be able to add sports-specific activities, such as jumping, to your program. Athletes who respond well to therapy can usually return to normal activity within six to nine months of surgery.

  • It is estimated that up to one-third of athletes will experience another ACL tear within two years of having surgery. A longer recovery period may reduce the risk of re-injury.

  • If you sustain an injury to the ACL, you should seek medical attention immediately in order to prevent irreversible damage.

Following A Complete Rupture Of The Acl, There May Be Limitations In Walking

  • Can you walk with a torn ACL? Yes, but there are some limitations and instructions you should follow after surgery.

  • After an ACL injury, it may be difficult to walk due to stiffness or swelling, which limits your range of motion and flexibility in your legs.

  • Approximately 80% of ACL injuries result in significant bone bruising, which necessitates minimal weight bearing at first. Apply ice four to five times a day for 15 to 20 minutes to reduce swelling

  • Even though you can walk with a complete ACL, sports that require sudden changes of direction, such as football, basketball, or hockey, may result in the knee giving out or buckling. In rare cases, a patient may experience difficulty walking without crutches after an ACL injury due to imbalance issues or ongoing severe pain

  • The knee functionality may be further impaired if the injury has caused other structural knee issues that need to be addressed by a physician.


Can you walk with a torn ACL is the most frequently asked question. After suffering an injury, you should not walk on a torn ACL. In addition to making the injury more painful, it may lead to further damage. You should consult a healthcare provider if you suspect that you have torn your ACL. Depending on the severity of the injury, your healthcare provider may instruct you to walk on it without assistive devices, such as crutches, braces, or canes, after rehabilitative therapy. Please contact us to schedule an appointment today.

Dr. Rao K. Ali M.D.

Dr. Rao Ali, a board-certified pain management physician, leads the clinic, which specializes in nonsurgical treatment. The physician has experience in the emergency room as well as training in pain management and rehabilitation. As a personal physician, he works with each patient to develop a treatment plan that will minimize or eliminate their pain. Providing expert diagnosis and treatment of a wide range of conditions, Pain Management In Dallas, PA provides a comprehensive range of services. These services include neck pain, back pain, hip and knee pain, fibromyalgia, neuropathy, complex regional pain syndrome, headaches, migraines, and many others.