The anterior cruciate ligament, commonly known as the ACL, plays a crucial role in stabilizing the knee. It ensures that the shin bone doesn't shift abnormally against the thigh bone. When the ACL is torn, it doesn't naturally repair itself, leading to knee instability. ACL injuries typically occur in situations like a football tackle, sudden stops or changes in direction while running, jumping landings, rapid turns, or any activity that might overstretch the knee joint. While these injuries are common in sports, they can also result from rough play, car accidents, falls, and work incidents. A tearing ACL often produces a popping noise, followed by swelling within a few hours and a sensation that the knee is giving way.
Our Atlanta ACL Repair Doctor, with over two decades of experience in ACL repair, points out that treatment doesn't always involve surgery. Strengthening exercises or a knee brace may suffice in some cases, although they only address instability and can't prevent further knee damage or arthritis. Diagnosis of an ACL tear is usually based on the patient's history and a physical examination, with an MRI offering deeper insights into the knee's condition. When surgery is required, it's done arthroscopically. The torn ligament is replaced with a segment from the hamstring tendon or a donor tissue. This new tendon is secured into the bone using various devices to ensure proper healing.
Patients typically can put weight on the leg within days post-surgery. Starting physical therapy soon after the operation is crucial for regaining strength and function in the knee. The recovery goals include restoring full range of motion, reducing swelling, and achieving complete weight-bearing capacity as soon as possible.
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