The ACL also known as the Anterior Cruciate Ligament is one of four primary ligaments that helps support the knee joint. If the ligament is completely torn, it will not heal. Some individuals elect to leave the knee without a functioning ACL, and some choose ACL surgery to replace the torn ligament.
What is ACL Reconstructive Surgery?
ACL reconstruction surgery is performed to replace the torn ACL with a new ligament. There are a number of considerations for those who are interested in ACL surgery including the specific surgical technique, the timing of surgery, and the type of graft to use. All this should be discussed thoroughly with your ACL injury specialist. The surgical procedure is usually an outpatient procedure and rehabilitation can take several months. Most doctors limit patients from sports for 7-9 months when recovering from ACL reconstructive surgery.
Untreated ACL Injury
If left untreated, a torn ACL injury may cause persistent “knee instability.” This usually consists of a buckling sensation as the knee can give-out during daily functional activities. Though some people may remain asymptomatic, they will often describe instability while playing sports. Determining if you should have ACL reconstruction surgery depends on a number of factors, especially for an athlete. Below, we will discuss a few of the pros and cons of having ACL reconstructive surgery:
- Allows for return to sports that require a functioning ACL
- May protect the knee cartilage from future damage
- Offers the potential for a normal functioning knee
- Surgery is not always 100% effective and some people do not fully recover
- There are many activities that can be performed without a functioning ACL
- There are possible complications and risks of ACL surgery
ACL reconstructive surgery is a good option for:
- Most individuals expecting to return to high-level athletic activities in sports such as football, soccer or basketball
- People who experience functional knee instability regularly due to ACL insufficiency
- Patients who fail conservative treatment such as physical therapy or bracing
All in all, we believe ACL reconstructive surgery should be considered for all individuals who wish to return to sports or activities that require twisting/pivoting of the knee, or those who experience recurrent daily functional instability of the knee.
If you want to learn more or would like to make an appointment with our certified sports medicine physician, please contact us at the offices of Dr. Alfred A.DeSimone.