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ACL Tear Grading - Severity Scale

ACL tears can be graded according to how much of the anterior cruciate ligament is torn. Your ACL is one of the most important ligaments--strong bands of fibrous tissues connecting a bone to another bone--that keeps your knee stable.

ACL Tear Grading / Severity of ACL Sprain

ACL tear, sometimes referred to as a sprain, can be graded as I, II, III depending on its severity.
Grade 1 ACL Sprain
In this type of sprain, the ACL is stretched, which may or may not include tearing of some of the fibers. Mild pain may be felt but the knee has minimal loss of stability. Grade 1 ACL sprain is sometimes called mild ACL sprain.

Grade 2 ACL Sprain
There is considerable stretching of the ACL causing partial tearing of the ligament in grade 2 sprain, also called moderate ACL sprain. It can cause moderate pain, swelling and mild looseness in the knee joint.

Grade 3 ACL Sprain
In grade 3 ACL sprain or severe sprain, the ACL is completely torn or ruptured. Symptoms are usually severe and the joint is unstable. Other structures of the knee may be damaged, as well.

More About the ACL

Questions and Answers About Sprains and Strains. National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases. Available at http://www.niams.nih.gov/Health_Info/Sprains_Strains/default.asp. Accessed on January 6, 2011