ACL Repair – When You Need It And How It Helps

September 23, 2022

Dr. Rashmit Patel
Consultant Orthopaedic
MS Orthopedics
Fellowship in Arthroscopy and Sports Medicine
Fellowship ins Arthoplasty
Fellowship is Trauma and Emergency Care

Have you experienced a loud popping sensation in your knee while playing sports along with restricted knee movements? Are you experiencing excruciating knee pain with buckling of your knee and instability or loss of knee movements? If yes, you might be suffering from a knee ligament injury and may require immediate intervention. ACL is the abbreviation of the anterior cruciate ligament in your knee that gives stability to your knee joint, and the meniscus ligament is another ligament that provides cushioning to the knee joint. A partial or complete ACL tear is one of the common injuries among athletes who play sports, such as soccer, volleyball, tennis, and basketball, involving sudden knee jerks, pressure, and certain angle twisting. So, you might be wondering what ACL repair is, when it gets injured, what factors are considered while deciding to go for ACL, and how ACL repair is performed, aren’t you? Read on to learn everything about ACL.

What is ACL Reconstruction?

ACL reconstruction is a surgical procedure that deals with reconstructing or replacing the torn major knee ligament called the anterior cruciate ligament with a new ligament in the anatomical place. ACL is a strong band of soft tissues that attach the femur (thighbone) to the tibia (shinbone). It helps stabilize your knee joint. Some common movements responsible for ACL injury include:

  • Landing from a jump incorrectly
  • Sudden slow down and change your direction
  • Pivoting with your foot firmly planted
  • Hitting your knee hard
  • Halting suddenly
  • Knee twisting injury while driving the car
  • Twisting injury to the knee while playing football
  • Suddenly landing on the knee
  • Traffic accidents

Symptoms of ACL Injury:

The common signs and symptoms that are indicative of ACL injury are:

  • Experiencing a loud popping sensation affecting your knee
  • Excruciating pain and inability to continue the sports or activity
  • Sudden rapid swelling at the knee joint
  • Inability to move the knee joint
  • The inability of your injured knee to bear the weight
  • A loss of range of motion
  • The feeling of ‘giving way’ or instability while bearing the weight.

At times, we may experience instability in the knee joint 3 to 4 days after injury. We might not sense it initially when the knee is swollen, however, when the swelling and pain subsides in 3 to 4 days, we may experience instability in the knee joint.

When ACL Reconstruction is Recommended?

Customised physiotherapy may treat an ACL injury successfully for people who are relatively less active, involved in moderate exercise, or play sports that exert less stress on the knees. ACL repair is recommended if:

  • You are an athlete and wish to continue playing sports involving rapid deceleration, jumping, or pivoting.
  • You have a torn meniscus or ACL causing buckling of the knee and sudden excruciating pain
  • When elderly patients get up from the sitting position and experience sudden acute pain in the knee.
  • More than one or multiple ligaments are injured.
  • In Road Traffic Accident (RTA) cases
  • The injury is making your knee buckle while performing routine activities
  • You are young. Although there is no age limit for ACL surgery intervention, it is rarely performed on individuals older than 55 years of age.

How do You Prepare for ACL Repair?

In acute cases of ACL injury, such as Road Traffic Accidents (RTA) cases, the surgeon does not rush for the surgery in the initial days. He lets the soft tissues of the knee heal for 2 to 3 weeks. After 2 to 3 weeks, the surgeon examines the knee. And, if the knee is still unstable, he may recommend MRI. Based on the MRI and considering the instability of the knee, he may take a call for ACL reconstruction.

In the rest of the knee or ACL reconstruction surgeries, you need to undergo physical therapy for one week before the surgical procedure. This is done to minimize the swelling and pain and restore the full range of motion and muscle strength of your knee joint. Individuals who go for ACL repair with a swollen, stiff knee may not succeed in regaining full range of motion after the surgical procedure.

An orthopaedic surgeon performs ACL reconstruction surgery by replacing the torn ligament with a tissue graft that mimics the natural ACL. You need to inform your surgeon about the medications and dietary supplements you are following. If you are taking blood-thinning medicines regularly, the operating surgeon may tell you to stop having them for at least three days before the surgical procedure to minimize the risk of bleeding. Make sure that you follow your surgeon’s instructions concerned with stopping eating the food, drinking, and having other medicines a night before the surgery.

How is ACL Repair Performed?

Usually, regional or local anaesthesia is used during ACL repair. The day-care procedure is involved requiring hospitalization for one day. So, you need to get admitted to the hospital one day before the surgery. ACL reconstruction is carried out through small incisions, one holding a small tube-resembling video camera and the rest letting the surgical tools access the joint space.

Surgical Procedure of ACL Repair:

Your operating surgeon removes the damaged ligament and replaces it with a segment of a tendon. The replaced tissue is called a graft, which is a tendon from a deceased donor or comes from another part of your body or knee. Then, the surgeon drills sockets in your shinbone and thighbone to position the graft accurately. He secures it to your bones with screws and other devices. This graft serves as a scaffolding on which a new ligament tissue can develop over time.

 After the ACL Repair:

You get discharged from the hospital the other day after you recover from anaesthesia. The next day after ACL reconstruction, you will be walking. Before you get discharged, the surgeon may ask you to wear a knee brace to safeguard the graft. And, after returning home, you need to follow the ACL rehabilitation protocol and care.

  • Care for Your Operated Knee: Make sure that you follow your surgeon’s and physiotherapist’s instructions to manage the pain and swelling after the surgery. Instructions involve placing your leg elevated, having as much rest as you can, and applying ice or cold wrap to your knee. After a few days of the surgery, you may practice walking using crutches.
  • Have Prescribed Medications: You need to take the doctor’s prescribed medications, such as pain relievers, on time as per the prescription. If the doctor prescribes stronger medications, you should have them.
  • Follow Post-Surgery Care: Consult your surgeon and follow his advice on how long to use crutches, when to change the dressing of the wound, when to apply an ice pack, and when it’s safe to bear normal weight on your operated knee. The surgeon provides all post-surgery care instructions that you should follow.
  • Go for Physiotherapy: Receiving progressive physical therapy from a skilled physiotherapist after ACL repair can help strengthen the muscles around your knees and improve their flexibility. The physiotherapist trains you on how to perform exercises in the right way and supervises you to see that you do them correctly for a smooth and speedy recovery. ACL rehabilitation plan comprising physiotherapy promotes proper healing and enables you to enjoy the best outcomes with improved knee health and range of motion.

Generally, it takes 9 months for complete recovery. It may even take from 8 to 12 months to return to your pre-injury sports activity.

9 Key Benefits of ACL Repair:

The outstanding benefits of ACL reconstruction include:

  1. Restored full functionality of the knee
  2. You regain the range of motion equal to the opposite (unoperated) knee
  3. Restores full knee joint stability
  4. Enables you to return to and maintain the pre-injury level of activity
  5. Restores knee health
  6. Improves your quality of life
  7. Reduces the chances of cartilage degeneration
  8. Prevents or delays the progression of osteoarthritis
  9. Cost-effective yet quite effective solution for restoring knee health and functionality

So, if you are suffering from an ACL tear and need an effective ACL repair from expert orthopaedics to get back to your usual activities, reach out to us at https://specialisthospital.in/ or call for emergency on 080 4212 2222 without any delay. Our talented health specialists will be pleased to attend to you and treat your injured knee and ACL with their best surgical skills and physiotherapy treatment and restore your knee joint’s function and stability to normalcy. Get back on your feet with our quality medical care and treatment.

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