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Anterior Cruciate Ligament Tear - How To Recover?

Written and reviewed by
Dr. Ankit Bhartia 88% (26 ratings)
MBBS, MS - Orthopaedics, Fellowship in Arthroscopy & Arthroplasty Shoulder & Knee
Orthopedic Doctor, Gurgaon  •  12 years experience
Anterior Cruciate Ligament Tear - How To Recover?

The Anterior Cruciate Ligament or ACL tear is a very common problem with athletes and with people who have an active lifestyle. In fact, this can also be caused by any accident due to sudden movement.

Importance of ACL-

The ACL is the supporting ligament, which runs diagonally from back to front right in the middle of the knee, connecting the femur bone and the tibia, and helps the tibia not to come before the femur. Thus the balance of the knee during back and forth movements and the entire stability of the knee joint is secured by this very important piece of ligament.

What leads to an injury to the ACL?

Here are a few actions that may result in a ligament tear.

  1. Sudden stopping while running or slowing down from a fast speed

  2. Sudden change in direction

  3. Uncontrolled jumping from a height

  4. Direct hitting with an object or person

What happens when the ACL is torn?

If the ACL is torn, the stability of your knee is gone, and you feel as if you have no control over the joint. Moreover, it causes extreme pain and instant swelling. Swelling usually appears within 24 hours of the injury.

Treatment of ACL Injury-

Recovery from an ACL tear is possible only after a surgery. Without surgery, the affected will not be able to return to sports or athletics, or may not be able to run and make swift movements again as before. However, to avoid surgery, there are non-invasive treatments for the aged and people who require moving less.

  • Non-invasive Treatment: Bracing is one treatment where braces are given to support the knee joint during movement and also to avoid further injury. This is effective for the elderly who need minimum movement and may manage daily activities with a braced knee. Also, crutches add to the support and let the weaker knee get rest. This is followed by physical therapy. But the swelling has to reduce before starting it. Many exercises and controlled movements over a long time help in getting back agility in movement gradually.

  • Surgical Treatment: Once the swelling subsides, doctors would plan for an Arthroscopic (Key-Hole Surgery) ACL reconstruction. In this Doctor make a graft of a tendon. This graft is inserted into the joint and fixed in anatomical position in femur and tibia Arthroscopically so that the newly created ACL functions like the natural one. This is the only way to get back the ligament in whole as the torn ligament cannot be stitched. Surgery is done through arthroscope and recovery time is 15 days for resuming day to day activities and 3 to 6 month for resuming sports activities with continued physical therapy after the surgery. If you wish to discuss about any specific problem, you can consult a orthopedist and ask a free question.
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