What is Anterior Cruciate Ligament (ACL) Injury?
An Anterior Cruciate Ligament (ACL) injury is a tear or sprain of the anterior cruciate ligament – one of the major ligaments in your knee.
ACL injury mostly occur during sports that involved sudden stops or changes in direction, jumping and landing such as soccer, basketball, football and downhill skiing.
When you tear an ACL, you will hear or feel a “pop” in the knee. Your knee may swell, feel unstable and become too painful to bear weight.
Depending on the severity of your ACL injury, treatment may include rest and rehabilitation exercises to aid you regain muscle strength and stability or surgery to replace the torn ligament followed by rehabilitation. A proper training program may help to eliminate the risk of an ACL injury.
ACL Reconstruction Surgery
How is ACL reconstruction surgery done? ACL reconstruction surgery uses a graft to replace the ligament. The most common grafts are autografts using part of your own body such as the hamstring tendon.
How long does it take to recover from ACL Surgery?
Within the first few weeks after surgery, you should strive to regain a range of motion equal to that of your opposite knee.
In general, the recovery takes approximately 3-6 months. Resumption of normal sports activity is variable and patient dependent. Please discuss with your doctor with regards to this as different patient profile and various intraoperative factors may differ amongst patients.
How soon can I walk after ACL Surgery?
You will able to begin putting your full weight on your operated leg without crutches 2 to 3 weeks after surgery; if the surgeon feels it is fine. Nevertheless, you will be able to ambulate with crutches after the operation.
Does torn ACL heal on its own?
ACL usually does not heal well on its own due to lack of good blood supply. Those athletes who only have a partial ACL tear, they are able to return to sports with a minimal instability and limited in the range of motion.
Post ACL Reconstruction Symptoms and Causes
There are a couple of potential complications that may occur after ACL Reconstruction Surgery:
1. Lax and Unstable Knee
Potential Causes: Graft disruption
– partial and complete tears
– ganglion cyst formation
2. Decreased in Range of Motion
Potential Causes: Graft impingement
– graft tunnel placement
– intercondylar notch bony spurs
How to Prevent ACL Injuries?
Proper training and exercise can help reduce the risk of ACL injury. A sports medicine physician, physical therapist, athletic trainer or other specialist in sports medicine can provide assessment, instruction and feedback that can help you reduce risks. Programs to reduce ACL injury include:
- Exercises that strengthen leg muscles, particularly hamstring exercises, to ensure an overall balance in leg muscle strength
- Exercises to strengthen the core, including the hips, pelvis and lower abdomen
- Training and exercise emphasizing proper technique and knee position when jumping and landing from jumps
- Training to improve technique when performing pivoting and cutting movements
- Training to strengthen muscles of the legs, hips and core — as well as training to improve jumping and landing techniques — may help to reduce the higher ACL injury risk associated with women athletes.
The surgeon will conduct some tests to determine the severity of the injury as follows:
– to determine for bony injuries (fractures). However, X-ray does not show soft tissues such as ligaments or tendons
-MRI of the knee to evaluate soft tissue damage (ligaments and cartilage)
– to check for injuries in the ligaments, tendons and knee muscles
Treatments for ACL Injury
There are non-surgical and surgical treatments that one can consider, depending on doctor’s prescription.
1. Non-Surgical Treatment
Non-surgical treatment may include:
Rest – General rest is necessary for healing and limits weight bearing on your knee.
Ice – When you’re awake, try to ice your knee at least every two hours for 20 minutes at a time.
Compression – Wrap an elastic bandage or compression wrap around your knee.
Elevation. Lie down with your knee propped up on pillows.
Physiotherapy – As the swelling goes down, a careful rehabilitation program is started. Specific exercises will restore function to your knee and strengthen the leg muscles that support it.
Bracing – The surgeon may recommend a brace to protect your knee from instability. To further protect your knee, you may be given crutches to keep you from putting weight on your leg.
2. Surgical Treatment
Rebuilding the ligament.
Most ACL tears cannot be sutured (stitched) back together. To surgically repair the ACL and restore knee stability, the ligament must be reconstructed. Your doctor will replace your torn ligament with a tissue graft. This graft acts as a scaffolding for a new ligament to grow on.
Grafts can be obtained from several sources. Often they are taken from the patellar tendon, which runs between the kneecap and the shinbone. Hamstring tendons at the back of the thigh are a common source of grafts. Sometimes a quadriceps tendon, which runs from the kneecap into the thigh, is used. Finally, cadaver graft (allograft) can be used.
There are advantages and disadvantages to all graft sources. You should discuss graft choices with your own orthopaedic surgeon to help determine which is best for you.
Because the re-growth takes time, it may be six months or more before an athlete can return to sports after surgery.
ACL Surgery Recovery
What should you do at home after surgery?
1) You should take medications that being prescribed in the clinic. Medications will help you to minimize the swelling and pain over operated knees. The pain will be subsided gradually each day.
2) You are required to walk around your home using a front-wheel walker, crutches or a cane (assistive walking device) that the physiotherapist instructed to use.
3) To do daily knee exercise that being advised from physiotherapist in order to regain the muscle strength and improve the range of movements for the operated knees.
4) Keep the wound clean and dry at all the time to prevent from any infection.
5) To cover the operated knee with waterproof protector during shower.
6) To come back for post-op review appointment given from the clinic so that the surgeon can review the wounds
Rehabilitation after ACL Surgery
Just went through ACL Surgery? We have prepared an article to help you understand more about rehabilitation after ACL Surgery. Click Here (add link)
If you require immediate medical treatment, Spire Orthopaedics is equipped to treat emergency patients. Save our contact for emergencies: (HP Number). For more information, visit our Contact Us page here.