If you are suffering from an ACL tear, then you are not alone. About 200,000 people go through ACL reconstruction every year in the United States. Surgery is a common treatment for an ACL tear, but you may be able to heal your ACL injury with non-surgical treatment.
What is an ACL Tear?
There are four ligaments in the knee that keep the bones in the joint stabilized and moving correctly. The anterior cruciate ligament, or ACL, stops the knee from moving anteriorly. It is common for the ACL to experience injuries from sports or a sudden change in direction. As the ligament tears, there is a popping sound. You will experience pain, swelling, and a feeling of instability. If you feel that you have an ACL tear, you should seek a consultation for a proper diagnosis from an orthopedic doctor.
Getting ACL Surgery
Depending on the ACL tear, surgery may be required. Full ACL tears will need surgical treatment. Surgery is also recommended for athletes or those who engage in activities that involve pivotal motions. Treatment requires replacing the ACL with a substitute graft. The surgical choices are:
- The patellar tendon autograft involves using the middle third of the patellar tendon and a bone plug from the kneecap. Many studies have shown positive results in postoperative tests.
- A hamstring tendon autograft uses the semitendinosus hamstring tendon on the inner side of the knee. Hamstring tendon autografts usually have a small recovery period.
- The quadriceps tendon autograft involves the middle third of the quadriceps tendon and a bone plug from the upper kneecap. Patients undergo this method if they have a failed ACL reconstruction.
It is sometimes possible for an ACL tear to heal without having surgery. Your doctor may recommend physical therapy and bracing if you do not have any additional knee damage. Physical therapy strengthens muscles using special exercises. Rehabilitation can repair the knee until it is close to its pre- injured condition. It lowers swelling and preserves mobility. Not everyone will be able to treat an ACL tear non-surgically. Patients who make good candidates for non-surgical treatment are:
- Those with partial tears
- Children whose growth plates are still open
- Patients who have a sedentary lifestyle
- Those with complete tears but no knee instability symptoms
The recovery time is shorter when using rehabilitation and will need to be monitored by your orthopedist. The time it takes to recover is approximately 3 months.
How Can Gustavel Orthopedics Help with Your ACL Tear?
If you have an ACL tear, you will need to speak with an orthopedic surgeon to determine the best treatment for you (surgical or non-surgical). Dr. Gustavel is Idaho’s trusted orthopedic surgeon. He is committed to providing patients with quality care and an honest opinion. Contact us today for a consultation.