The anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) runs diagonally through the center of your knee, connecting your shinbone to your thighbone. This ligament prevents the shinbone from sliding out in front of the thighbone and stabilizes the knee during movement.
When you have an ACL injury, you may need surgery to regain full function of your knee joint. But we can’t stitch the ACL back together; surgeons have to reconstruct it.
At Douglas J. Abeles MD & Associates in Castro Valley, California, our team of health experts treats many knee injuries and conditions. For ACL reconstruction, orthopedic surgeons Dr. Abeles and Dr. Michael B. Krinsky perform knee surgery.
Here, we want to share with you what you need to know about this complex procedure.
About ACL reconstruction
Stitching or suturing an ACL tear isn’t a long-term solution for this type of knee injury. In order to restore knee function, surgeons perform ACL reconstruction.
For this reconstruction, we graft a substitute ligament from a portion of your hamstring, quadricep, or patellar tendon. Or we use tissue from a human donor.
Although the surgery is complex, our skilled orthopedic surgeons perform ACL reconstruction using minimally invasive tools and techniques.
First, we prepare the graft and then remove your damaged ligament. We drill holes in your shinbone and femur, thread the graft tissue through, and hold it in place with screws, washers, or staples. We then close the incisions and bandage the knee.
Who needs ACL reconstruction?
Full knee function depends on the health and strength of the ACL, but not everyone with an ACL tear needs surgery. When it comes to knee surgery, we make decisions on a case-by-case basis.
If you have a mild tear and lead a fairly sedentary life, surgery may not be necessary. Instead, we may recommend physical therapy and a hinged knee brace to restore most of your knee function.
But if you lead an active lifestyle or play sports, ACL reconstruction is your only option for regaining full use of your knee.
We perform ACL reconstruction about three to six weeks after the initial injury. If we perform the surgery too soon while you still have inflammation, you may develop severe scarring known as arthrofibrosis.
On the other hand, if we wait too long to perform the reconstruction, your risk of a revision surgery increases.
Recovering from ACL reconstruction
When you decide ACL reconstruction is the best way to go, you need to commit to the recovery process following surgery. Physical therapy is crucial to the success of the procedure.
You can walk with crutches right after surgery, and we start your rehabilitation program as soon as we think you’re ready. Total recovery time from ACL reconstruction takes anywhere from six to nine months.
ACL reconstruction gives you full use of your knee and is the only way to correct an ACL tear. To learn more about surgery for your ACL injury, call our office to request an appointment today.