Anterior Cruciate Ligament ACL Reconstruction
One of the most important ligaments in the human body lies inside the knee joint and is called the Anterior Cruciate Ligament. The anterior cruciate ligament, more commonly referred to as the ACL, is a tough, rope-like strand of fibrous material that is the primary stabilizing ligament of the knee. It provides much of the straining force that keeps the joint from becoming displaced when subjected to the stress and pressure of movement. Due to the importance and complexity of the ACL, if it experiences damage, Anterior Cruciate Ligament Reconstruction surgery is needed to ensure a complete and efficient recovery.
The severity of ACL injuries
Due to its critical role in enabling everyday movement as well as vigorous exercise, ACL injuries are serious. Any damage to the ACL will leave the knee dangerously unstable. Unfortunately, there has been a noticeable rise in ACL injuries, especially in the young adult demographic. This is especially the case for athletes. Few athletes consider the amount of weight (pressure) that is placed on the knee with each sprint, leap, jump, and lift. For larger, more explosive athletes performing quick changes of direction, their ACLs will be pulled and stretched. Either through overuse or insufficient stretching, the ligament can give out, leading to strains, sprains, and tears.
ACL injury treatment
Orthopedic medicine has developed a diverse set of reconstruction techniques with the aim to restore knee function, decrease subjective levels of pain and shorten recovery times. However, reconstructive surgery for a torn anterior cruciate ligament is a demanding and challenging procedure because of the complex structure and position of the ligament within the joint.
RICE – If an ACL has been bruised, strained, or sprained, it may be best to consider a conservative approach that limits the patient’s exposure to further injury and allows the body to naturally heal. With this approach Resting, Icing, Compressing, and Elevating the injured ACL, will help to limit complications and reduce swelling.
Stretches and exercise – If the anterior cruciate ligament is recovering on its own, patients will need to ensure that it is returned to its natural strength and stability. This will require a progressive stretching and exercise routine that incrementally builds up the ACL to its original elasticity and resilience. Even if surgery is required, patients will first need to take a few weeks to reclaim the knee’s full range of motion to prevent post-operative complications.
ACL Reconstruction – Utilizing a transplanted graft from a similar ligament, surgeons can mend torn ACLs and accelerate the healing process for ACL tears. Once the ACL has experienced a certain degree of damage, surgery is necessary to remove and replace the damaged ligament tissue and allow for full ACL use. Surgeons will utilize an arthroscope to achieve a clear view of the interior knee joint and prevent the need for open surgery.
ACL Reconstruction recovery
Through the use of an arthroscope, surgical teams will only require a small incision to operate within the knee and successfully replace the damaged ACL tissue. This will limit the damage done to the surrounding knee tissue. That being said, the ACL will still require time to adapt to the new tissue and continue to recover its original strength and flexibility. Patients will be encouraged to limit their activity, utilize assistive walking devices (if needed) and perform physical therapy for the weeks following the surgery. Through regular checkups with the doctor and physical therapist, patients can ensure a safe and progressive recovery.
Risks of ACL Reconstruction
Risks associated with ACL Reconstruction surgery are present but can be mitigated by working with an experienced and proven surgical team. Anti-biotics and further corrective surgical treatments can be used in cases of infection or an unsuccessful procedure.
Overall, if the proper steps are taken by the doctor and patient to diagnose the extent of the injury and prepare for surgery, ACL Reconstruction can be highly effective in repairing ACL tears and returning patients back to their optimal health and physical capabilities.