What is an ACL?
ACL stands for anterior cruciate ligament. It runs diagonally in the middle of the knee. It prevents the tibia (shin bone) from sliding out in front of the femur (thigh bone). It is commonly injured in athletes who participate in sports such as soccer, football, and basketball.
What can cause an ACL injury?
An ACL injury can occur when changing direction rapidly, stopping suddenly, landing from a jump incorrectly or direct contact collision such as a football tackle. Most injuries are complete tears. Partial tears of the ACL are rare but occasionally happen.
What are the symptoms of an ACL injury?
At the time of the injury, you might hear a “popping noise” and you will likely collapse as the knee gives out. The knee will swell within 6 hours and there will be pain especially when weight is put on it. If left untreated, swelling and pain may go away on their own but if your child returns to physical activity the knee will probably be unstable, move abnormally and cause further damage to the meniscuses and knee cartilage.
What is the treatment for an ACL injury?
The treatment is called ACL reconstruction. It is a minimally invasive outpatient surgery that reconstructs the ligament using a tissue graft. Dr. Bradley usually uses hamstring tendons harvested from the same leg that has an ACL tear. Physical therapy is required following surgery to regain motion and strength in the knees.
How long is recovery time?
Recovery time varies from patient to patient. It could take 6 months up to a year to return to full activities. There are very frequent physical therapy visits as well as home exercises for the first three months following the surgery. There are less frequent physical therapy visits for the next three months. Most commonly the injured person returns to sports 9 months after the reconstruction.