ACL stands for anterior cruciate ligament, and a sprained or torn ACL is one of the most common knee injuries. You’re most likely to hear about it when it happens to a star athlete. However, the truth is that anyone who plays sports like soccer, basketball or football is much more likely to have an ACL injury.
What happens when you injure your ACL?
The joint of your knee is made of three bones: your femur, your tibia (you could think of this as your shinbone) and your kneecap. Your kneecap protects the front of your joint. All these bones are connected by ligaments. Think of the ligaments as strong ropes that keep your knee in place. The anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) runs diagonally in the middle of the knee.
When any of these ligaments are sprained, it causes problems. These can be relatively minor, such as a “Grade 1 Sprain” where the knee is still stable, to a “Grade 3 Sprain” where the ligament has been completely cut into two pieces. As a result of a Grade 3 Sprain, the knee is incredibly unstable.
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How is an ACL repaired?
If it has not been severely sprained, then it’s not necessary to have surgery. Using a brace and taking part in physical therapy can generally help. However, if is completely torn, an orthopedic surgeon has to go inside the knee and reconstruct the entire ligament by grafting other tissue into the ligament.
An ACL reconstruction is done arthroscopically. This means an arthroscope is used. This is a small, fiber-optic tube equipped with a camera. It provides an unhindered view, allowing the orthopedic specialist to repair it. Surgery that is done arthroscopically typically means the patient needs to spend less time in the hospital and has a faster recovery time.
To do the reconstruction, the surgeon will drill bone tunnels into the tibia and the femur, remove the torn ligament, and replace it with the ACL graft.
Bracing and crutches will be needed after your surgery to stabilize the need and prevent you from putting too much weight on your leg. You’ll be prescribes and physical therapy regime that will last for a few months. This will help you transition out of your crutches. When your thigh muscles regain their strength, you’ll be able to stop wearing a knee brace.
Most ACL reconstructions are restoring and stabilizing the function of the knee and ligament. After 9 months, most people are able to return to sports and other strenuous activities, however, you may need to wear an ACL brace to help prevent reinjury.
When a sports injury happens, our expert team is there for you.
When you experience an ACL injury or any orthopedic injury, getting out of pain and back to doing what you do best is at the top of the list. The specialists at CMC are at the forefront of innovation and the most current treatment techniques. We know how important it is to you to get back to work or back in the game as soon as possible. Therefore, we offer a wide range of surgical and nonsurgical treatments personalized for you to do just that.