Athletic injuries and personal injury accidents are frequent causes of anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) injuries. Between 100,000 to 200,000 ACL ruptures occur per year, and happen when the main ligament that stabilizes the knee becomes badly torn, sprained, or strained. A blunt force hitting the knee when the leg is straight or slightly bent can be the cause. Other reasons this injury can happen includes suddenly changing direction, jumping and landing roughly, or slowing down after running. If you believe that you have an ACL injury and don’t believe the torn ligament can heal on its own, you can consult with a doctor to find out whether an ACL reconstruction therapy is the correct treatment for you. Contact Ceda Orthopedic Group for more information.
What Is An ACL Injury?
When you undergo trauma that is destructive enough to tear your ACL, it can take some time for you to recover. At first, you may hear a pop during the injury, feel pain and experience swelling around your knee. Even if the swelling goes down, typically you may have difficulty walking. For example, the knee can randomly give out, causing you to stumble or fall over because the torn ACL is unstable. You may experience a reduced range of motion, the inability to do strenuous activity, frequent swelling, popping sensations, and the inability to bear weight.
What Is ACL Reconstruction Used For?
ACL reconstruction surgery is performed in order to rebuild the ligament found at the center of your knee. The anterior cruciate ligament connects your tibia, which is your shin bone to your femur, also known as the thigh bone. When the ACL is torn, your knee can give out while you are playing sports, at the gym, or doing physical labor. Your knees are especially vulnerable during crossover movements or side-stepping.
What Happens During ACL Reconstruction?
In general, the surgery doesn’t take longer than two to three hours as an out-patient. This means that after the surgery is over, you can go home. First, you receive general anesthesia to put you to sleep. During the surgery, your doctor will drill into the tibia and femur and remove the torn ligament. Afterward, an ACL graft is inserted in the same position before the doctor closes the incision. The ACL graft can be taken from your own body, such as tissue from your hamstring. You can also seek a graft from a donor, which is also known as an allograft. The doctor may also use knee arthroscopy, which is when a tiny camera is placed inside your knee through a surgical cut so that the surgeon can see the injured tissues.
How Can ACL Reconstruction Benefit Me?
If the injury isn’t too severe, the ACL may heal on its own as long as you don’t get too involved in strenuous physical activity. You would need to rest for several weeks before risking excessive movement. Not all ACL wounds heal naturally, which is why you can consider ACL reconstruction. Without it, your knee’s strength can begin to deteriorate, preventing you from being able to participate in normal activities.
ACL reconstruction can help you return to your normal way of living. You won’t have to worry about your knee giving out when you least expect it. The frequent pain or swelling that can happen in your knee that comes with the strain and stress of carrying your weight won’t continue after the tear is reconstructed.
Would I Be A Good Candidate For ACL Reconstruction?
It can be problematic when your ACL tear doesn’t reattach itself and heal after a lengthy period of time. Even if you haven’t noticed an improvement in your knee’s condition after several weeks, you may be eligible for an ACL reconstruction. If you are an active adult, you may be a good candidate. This is only if the damage is so bad that your knee buckles when you perform physical labor and other activities. Children can also receive ACL reconstruction surgery if their growth plates are already closed.
If you’ve exhausted all other methods of treatment, such as rehabilitation or physical therapy, then you can meet with a doctor who can perform the following procedures:
Your doctor will palpate the area and move the injured knee around while observing your movements. They will make notes on the strength of your knee.
Your doctor will use an imaging scan to see how severe the damage is inside your knee.
Arthrometer or laximeter
The application of an arthrometer is one of the most efficient techniques to diagnose an ACL tear. It provides information on how stable the knee is.
Doctors will apply these methods to confirm that you are a good candidate for ACL reconstruction, and direct you on the next steps.
How Long Will It Take Me To Recover From The Procedure?
After surgery, you should be able to reestablish your full range of motion within a few weeks. However, it will take around nine months to recover. For athletes, they should wait about 12 months before participating in sports. You will also get advice on stretches, exercises, diet, and other recommendations to help your knee improve.
What Can I Do About My ACL Injury?
Your ACL tear can bring significant inconvenience to your lifestyle and make it difficult for you to perform normal tasks. When the knee is unstable and chronically swelling despite all your efforts to rehabilitate it, it may be time to speak to a doctor who can help. They can identify the issue and whether the damage is severe enough to require ACL reconstruction. Physical therapy may not be enough to help you recover. Call Ceda Orthopedic Group today to find out what you can do to get started and how our clinic can help.