lax ACL

by Spring
(Hartford, CT USA)

Want to know several things.

I want to know if the swelling in my joint can make it feel like I have a lax ACL when in fact I do not.

Can an OS doctor looking at an MRI tell if the ACL injury is old or new when there was slight bleed that healed? What kind of time-frame can he narrow it to? (He's called it OLD and that it can't be bothering me now)

If the MRI says that its a "mild sprain" that does not mean I can't have a lax ACL...right?

My leg feels like its in TWO pieces separated at the joint line. When I walk, it feels like I'm forced into dragging my foot, as its too clunky to pick the foot up and throw it forward in a normal fashion. The joint feels like it "rotates" even when I'm turning under the covers in bed.

Tell me, I'm worried over nothing.



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Apr 28, 2011
Injured ACL (not torn)
by: Dennis Mueller

12 years ago i tore my left ACL while skiing. I had it reconstructed with a patellar tendon graft and had a tear in my meniscus tacked. After some rehab and time (a year) I returned to all the sports I previously enjoyed running first, then soccer then skiing.

A couple years ago, I tore my meniscus (probably as a result of kneeling for a long time while installing a tile floor) and had it repaired. There was hardly any down-time with this repair.

This winter I injured my knee again. No trauma, nothing happened, it just swelled up slightly and hurt after playing soccer. (Previously I had some pain around my patella, but mostly aching after long workouts, and no noticeable swelling.) The odd thing was that I had recently been doing more strengthening exercises and the patellar aching had disappeared. Some RICE did no good, a cortisone shot made the knee feel better temporarily, but jogging caused the swelling and pain to return. An MRI confirmed my ACL was still intact and indicated some roughness in my meniscus and some Chondrolacia Patella; the physical exam indicated a lax ACL. One surgeon thought I should consider a new ACL repair, the second thought I should try physical therapy. It has now been about 4 months since the initial injury and 4 weeks into P.T. the swelling is gone and I am pain-free (I can still tell there is some irritation, but it is not really pain). I will continue P.T. to get rid of the vestiges of pain and minimize any instability.

I am pretty sure that I can resume running soon, but the questions are: Will the lax ACL "heal" itself over time? Should I return to soccer? If so, should I wear a brace?

Feb 11, 2009
Back after several OS appointments
by: Spring

Its been a year now...

I was an elegant ballroom dancer (how I loved it) I'm just a pitiful hobbler.

Pain, swelling, instablity and a thick blanket of dreaded hopelessness are my constant companions. I am choked up all day. EVERYONE in the world appears to be able to walk. EVERYONE but me. EVERYWHERE is off limits...expect for the living room, kitchen and bedroom which is hard to keep clean as bending to straighten things is impossible.

A prisoner.

I've committed no crime.

There is no one to talk to. You are dismissed before you get to say a word hardly. So how are you to communicate?

I've seen several OS docs now and have come to the heartbreaking conclusion that being a cripple is my only future.

I don't understand how a doctor will take fat out of my butt and stick it in my face and implant six embryos in me...but draws the line at restoring my ability to walk with routine operation.


Feb 04, 2009
lax acl/partial tear
by: Anonymous

I have the same problem just described above. I have tried a brace and physical therapy. This has not help at all. When I roll over in bed, it feels like my knee is being ripped apart. I have been diagnosed with a partial acl tear found during arthroscopic surgery. I want to get it reconstructed, but I can't find a doctor willing to do it. They say my knee does not feel unstable to them. I have been to several orthopedic surgeons. I am tired of being in severe pain and have decided to take up every sport I can think of in hopes of a complete acl tear. I have already torn medial and lateral meniscus before my late acl diagnosis.

Oct 02, 2008
by: Anonymous


Thanks so much for entertaining my question.:) Good info there..

I contacted the Radiologist who wrote the report for clarification. She says the edema in the ACL as well as around indicate a more recent injury.

I keep wondering how one does strengthening activity for this, since any knee movement creates sharp pains, and provokes a surge of acid like fluid in the joint-line as well as under the knee-cap -- lateral side.

I don't know if some of that could be explained by patella dislocation (that happend at same injury event), but it seems that its healing pretty good.

I have made appointment for second opinion.

Thanks very much Bart.


Oct 02, 2008
ACL laxity
by: Bart - SII

usually, swelling in the knee joint will make the knee feel stiff and less loose - at least that is what I have seen with other patients.

An MRI should be able to tell an acute injury from an old injury - usually based on fluid accumulation I believe - but, I am not a radiologist, so don't quote me on that.

A minor sprain can cause laxity in the ACL - depends on how minor it is. It also depends on how well your muscles are functioning. If you have a little bit of laxity and poor muscular stabilization, that will amplify the instability you are feeling - vice versa, you can have a completely torn ACL and great muscular stability and feel like you have no laxity / instability at all in the knee.

Bottom line is it sounds like your knee is compromising your quality of life, and you need to have something done, either rehabilitation to improve muscle function to help stabilize, or surgery to correct an intact but lax / non-functioning ACL.

I would discuss your options with your doctor, and or perhaps seek a second opinion.


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