If you suffer from an injured ACL (anterior cruciate ligament), you’re not alone as there are about 200,000 ACL injuries in America each year. Often, ACL injuries occur in athletes who play football, basketball, soccer and other kinds of high-risk sports. While sometimes the ACL needs to be repaired, in other cases, it requires reconstruction. If you’ve been told you need ACL reconstructive surgery, you may have several questions. Here are some of the most common questions, regarding ACL reconstructive surgery and recovery.
What is ACL Reconstructive Surgery and What’s Involved?
ACL reconstructive surgery is a procedure that involves reconstructing the ACL by using a tendon from a patient’s own body. For example, the replacement tissue, known as the graft, could be a hamstring tendon or kneecap tendon. Sometimes, a surgeon may use a patient’s quadriceps tendon or allograft tissue, which comes from a deceased donor.
To place the graft, a surgeon first drills sockets into a patient’s shinbone or thighbone so that it’s positioned accurately. The replacement tissue is then anchored to the bones using fixation tools, such as screws. Because the graft serves as surgical scaffolding, new ligament tissue is able to grow.
What’s Entailed in the Recovery Process?
After your procedure, you’ll stay in the recovery room until your anesthetic has worn off, which usually takes two or more hours. This is an outpatient surgery, you can go home later the same day.
Before going home, your doctor will help you practice walking by using crutches. He or she will show you how to properly change the dressings on your wound. Showering instructions and other post-surgery guidelines will also be given.
Expect knee swelling, which can be relieved by using ice packs, elevation and taking anti-inflammatory medications. Physical therapy is also included in the rehabilitation process so your muscles surrounding your knee are strengthened and more flexible.
When Can I Return to Work?
When you’re able to go back to work largely depends on your job and the demands it requires. For example, if you have a sedentary job, you may get to return to your workplace in only a week. On the other hand, if your job involves being on your feet, which places a heavy demand on your knee, you may have to stay home for as long as four to six weeks.
Am I a Good Candidate for ACL Reconstruction Surgery?
If you’re an active person, and especially an athlete who plays sports that entail pivoting, you’re likely a suitable candidate for ACL reconstructive surgery. This procedure is also recommended for people who’ve completed a rehabilitation program but still have knee instability, or for those who’ve injured more than just a single knee ligament.
Our Orthopaedic surgeons have the skills and experience to treat various knee injuries, including ACL injuries. For all your orthopedic needs, call Hampton Roads Orthopedics and Sports Medicine, where we’ve been providing quality orthopedic care for over 50 years to Hampton Roads residents. Please contact us and find out more about our wide range of orthopedic and sports medicine services.