ACL Reconstruction is a surgical procedure done to treat a torn ACL in the knee. ACL tear in one of the most common knee injuries. The ACL is an important stabilizing ligament inside the knee joint. Athletes in soccer, basketball, and football are at higher risk to suffer an ACL injury. This type of injury can also happen off the playing field at your workplace. Some common causes of ACL tears are changing direction too quickly, twisting the knee, landing incorrectly from a jump or fall, or direct trauma.
- Pain and swelling
- Loss of mobility
- Knee instability (buckling or giving way of the knee)
Ignoring any of these symptoms and returning back to your normal activities without treatment puts you at much higher risk of further injuring your knee. Commonly, ACL reconstruction surgery is done in order to regain full functional use of your knee. The need for surgery will depend on the severity of damage and the level of activity you anticipate. An MRI scan is commonly obtained to help determine the severity of the ACL tear and if there is other structural damage in the knee joint (eg. Meniscus tear) in preparation for surgery.
ACL reconstruction is arthroscopic surgery. An ACL graft is used (either your own tissue (autograft) or cadaver tissue (allograft)), bone tunnels are drilled, the graft is put in place, and bioabsorbable screws are used to hold it there. This is done under general anesthesia and is outpatient surgery (you are able to go home the same day). There are always risks and benefits of surgery, and there are never any 100% guarantees regarding the outcome of surgery. The surgeon’s goal is to minimize the risks and help guide you to the best path of recovery.
After surgery you will temporarily use crutches and a knee immobilizer, but may put as much weight on the surgical leg as you feel comfortable. A hinged knee brace is then used temporarily to help support your knee and physical therapy is prescribed after surgery to ensure the best recovery. Recovery after ACL reconstruction surgery usually takes around six to eight months.