Reconstructing A Torn ACL

The anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) is a critical component for stabilizing the knee and aids in controlling joint movements. The ligaments cross inside the knee, with the ACL in the front. When an injury occurs, the damage is referred to as partial or complete. Typically, an ACL tear occurs because of sudden pivoting movements or quick stops. The injury is incredibly common in sports such as football or soccer. While some athletes can recover fully from an ACL tear with non-surgical solutions, other people will need reconstruction to get back to playing.


Partial vs complete tears

Determining if an individual needs surgery for an ACL tear depends on whether the injury is partial or complete. A partial injury means the ligament is still partially connected to the bone, while a complete tear means total separation. Although not all people are good candidates for ACL reconstruction surgery, individuals with a complete tear typically require surgical reconstruction. Surgery is also often recommended for patients with an ACL tear along with other knee injuries. The doctor will review the extent of the injury and knee instability to determine if a patient is a good candidate for surgery.

What to expect from surgery

Repairing torn ligaments used to be the go-to solution. These days most orthopedic surgeons avoid repair procedures in favor of replacing the torn ACL completely. The process relies on inserting a graft that is made from tissue. The new ligament is often made from the patient or donor tissue. The most popular option is to use a tendon. Typically, ACL reconstruction has high success rates and is the preferred solution for active athletes not intent on retiring. Additional steps can be taken to speed recovery.

PRP for faster wound healing

Originally, platelet-rich plasma (PRP) injections were offered as an alternative to surgery. However, nowadays, the treatment can be administered after an operation to accelerate recovery. PRP injections are a popular outpatient solution for faster wound healing. After collecting a sample from the patient, the blood is processed in a centrifuge to separate the components. Blood is made of many parts, including red blood cells, plasma, and platelets. The plasma is the liquid portion, and the platelets are specialty blood cells that support clotting and tissue regeneration after an injury. A physician will then inject the solution into the injury site. By increasing hormones or biofactors where the injury occurred, healing can take place at a faster rate.

Get back in the game

Recovering from an ACL tear takes time and patience. Physical therapy (PT) is critical for regaining stability in the knee. Additionally, learning proper posture during activity is essential to prevent future injuries. Keep in mind that full recovery can take up to a year, and trying to return to full capacity too soon can encourage more damage. Following the surgeon’s instructions, proper rest, PT, and the use of PRP can all help speed up recovery and help get athletes back in the game sooner.

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