29 Jan ACL Injury
The anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) is a common sports injury to the knee. This generally happens:
- Changing direction rapidly
- Stopping suddenly
- Slowing down while running
- Landing from a jump incorrectly
- Direct contact or collision, such as a football tackle or other sports injuries
- Falls and twisting injuries seen due to slipping while dancing, skating.
It is an observation that female athletes have a higher incidence of ACL injury than male athletes. This is due to differences in physical conditioning, muscular strength, and shape of the femur bone.
When you injure your anterior cruciate ligament, you might hear a “popping” noise and you may feel your knee give out from under you. Other typical symptoms include:
- Pain with swelling. Within 24 hours, your knee will swell. If ignored, the swelling and pain may resolve on its own. However, if you attempt to return to sports, your knee will probably be unstable and you risk causing further damage to the cushioning cartilage (meniscus) of your knee.
- Loss of full range of motion.
- Tenderness along the joint line
- Discomfort while walking
- ACL injuries are one of the most ignored and usually patient visits the doctor 2 or 3 years following the injury with complaints of instability and weakness in the knee.
These injuries can usually be diagnosed by a careful physical examination and can be confirmed on an MRI scan. X-ray examination done at the time of injury is usually observed to be normal.
ACL Injury Treatment
Treatment for an ACL tear will vary depending upon the patient’s individual needs. For instance, young athletes and active individuals will most likely require surgery to safely return to sports and recreational activities. The less active, usually older, individual may be able to return to a quieter lifestyle without surgery.
Rebuilding the ligament. Most ACL tears cannot be sutured (stitched) back together. To surgically repair the ACL and restore knee stability, the ligament must be reconstructed using a tissue graft taken from your body. This graft acts as a scaffolding for a new ligament to grow on.
The grafts are fixed with screws .These screws could be made of Metal (Titanium) or the screws could be made of a special material and are dissolved by the body over a period of 2 years. The bio-absorbable screws are now used routinely and are not visible on X-rays.
Grafts can be obtained from several sources. Hamstring tendons at the back of the thigh are one of the most common sources of grafts, since they tend to grow back with time and have the quickest recovery period. The graft can also be taken from the patellar tendon, which runs between the kneecap and the shinbone. Sometimes a quadriceps tendon, which runs from the kneecap into the thigh, is used.
Surgery to rebuild an anterior cruciate ligament is done with an arthroscope using small incisions.
Arthroscopic surgery is less invasive. The benefits of less invasive techniques include less pain from surgery, less time spent in the hospital, and quicker recovery time.
We use the latest technique of ACL reconstruction called the Anatomical Foot Print technique, as described Dr. Freddie Fu from USA. This allows quick recovery, a high success rate of 98% and complete restoration of stability and power in the leg, allowing patients to continue to play high level sports, even after the injury.