ACL Tear – Injury & Treatment Options
By Steven Meier
ACL reconstruction refers to a procedure done to replace a torn anterior cruciate ligament. The anterior cruciate ligament is a band of fibrous tissue located inside the knee. It helps the knee move forward and back as well as providing stability for the joint. There are three other essential ligaments in the knee. These are the posterior cruciate ligament (PCL), lateral collateral ligament (LCL), and medial collateral ligament (MCL). While the cruciate ligaments are located inside the knee, the collateral ligaments are on the outside and help provide side-to-side stability.
Torn ACL Causes and Symptoms
Because of the location of the anterior cruciate ligament and role of the knee joint in athletic activity, the ACL is an often injured ligament. The ligament can tear for a number of reasons, including:
- sudden stopping
- quick direction changes
- awkward landings while jumping
- hard impacts to the knee
Patients who suffer a torn ACL often experience the following symptoms:
- pain in the knee
- swelling in the knee
- tenderness in and around the knee
- limited mobility of the knee joint
When an anterior cruciate ligament is only partially torn it is often able to heal with nonsurgical treatment. However, if the ACL is severed completely, it cannot heal itself. In this case, patients should consider ACL reconstruction.
ACL Reconstruction Surgery
Because an ACL cannot be effectively repaired, it is necessary to remove it and implant a graft in its place. This graft can be tissue taken from either the patient’s own body or an outside donor. To perform ACL reconstruction, Dr. Meier will first make several small incisions around the knee. He will then insert a small camera into the knee in order to see inside. After removing the damaged ACL, Dr. Meier will then drill small holes in the bone, thread the new graft through them and fixing it in place with surgical screws.
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