ACL Tear Surgery in St. Louis, MO
Injury to the anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) is one of the most common knee injuries. An ACL tear is also very common among athletes – especially those who play basketball, football, volleyball, soccer, tennis, or those who ski. You are at risk of an ACL injury if you make repeated sudden pivots or engage in a lot of jumping and landing. Women tend to suffer ACL tears more often than men do.
Your ACL is a key ligament that holds the bones and cartilage of the knee joint together. It connects the femur (thighbone) to the tibia (shinbone) and is what provides stability to your knee. The ACL is located in the middle of the knee and it controls the forward and backward movement of your knee, preventing the shinbone from moving out in front of your thighbone at the knee.
Most often, the ACL is completely – rather than partially – torn during an activity that significantly stretches the ligament. This complete tear is also sometimes referred to as a Grade 3 sprain.
How to Tell If You’ve Torn Your ACL
You will be able to tell if you’ve injured your ACL by the following symptoms:
- A popping or snapping sound or sensation at the moment of injury
- Immediate pain and swelling of the affected knee
- Inability to continue your activity
- Limited range of motion
- Instability of the knee or a feeling that it may give way when standing
When you visit your orthopedic doctor, you may require an MRI to identify the extent of your injury, including whether more than just the ACL was damaged. In about 50% of cases of an ACL tear, other tissue in the area are also damaged such as the cartilage, meniscus, or other ligaments of the knee.
ACL Surgery & Rehabilitation
Surgery and physical therapy are common treatments for ACL injuries – especially if conservative methods such as rest, immobilization, and anti-inflammatories fail to help alleviate symptoms associated with minor ACL injuries. A complete ACL tear, however, will not heal on its own and surgery will be required.
ACL reconstruction surgery involves rebuilding the torn ligament by using a graft to provide scaffolding upon which ligament tissue can grow. A tendon at the kneecap or thigh is often used as the graft tissue during the surgery. ACL reconstruction can restore pain-free range of motion, although full recovery can take six months or more.
ACL reconstructions may be done arthroscopically, meaning in as least invasive a manner as possible. Two small incisions are required during an arthroscopy (also called a “keyhole surgery”), instead of the one larger incision used in traditional, “open” surgeries.
During an arthroscopic ACL reconstruction, the repair work is accomplished using a small, flexible tube through which microscopic instruments are used to conduct the treatment. Because it is a minimally invasive procedure, patients benefits with less pain, scarring, and a faster recovery.
A successful surgery gets you half way to a fully recovered knee. To truly get back a stable and full functioning knee, you will need to follow a physical therapy plan prescribed by your doctor. Rehabilitation compliance is particularly important to avoid re-injuring the knee in the future.
ACL Injury Care in St. Louis, Missouri
Don’t let knee pain or an ACL injury keep you from the sport or activities you love. Board-certified and fellowship-trained orthopedic surgeon Dr. Jason Browdy can help. Call (314) 991-2150 to schedule a consultation or request an appointment now. We look forward to seeing you at our office in St. Louis, Missouri.