Spend any time among athletes and you’re bound to hear a story or two about knee surgery, more specifically anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) repairs. And now you find yourself with an ACL tear of your own, and you’re wondering just how effective this approach is to restoring function to your knee.
To answer this question, the extensive team of musculoskeletal experts here at The Woodlands Sports Medicine Centre decided to take a closer look at ACL surgical repairs in this month’s blog post. As sports medicine specialists, we have considerable experience helping our patients get back into the game after knee injuries, and we can do the same for you.
Understanding an ACL tear
To start, let’s briefly review the role that your ACLs play in your knees. These joints are the largest in your body and are formed by your tibia (shinbone), patella (kneecap), and femur (thighbone).
Holding these three bones together and providing stability is a network of ligaments, including your ACLs, which are responsible for keeping your tibia from sliding in front of your femur. In addition to keeping your leg bones in place, your ACL also provides rotational stability, which is why so many ACL injuries occur due to twisting your knee.
While ACL injuries can occur in both sexes, women are more likely to incur an ACL injury than men largely due to anatomical differences, such as wider hips that force the knees inward.
When you injure your ACL, the connective tissue can tear partially or completely, which dictates your treatment to a large extent.
Why turn to surgical repair for your ACL injury?
Before we recommend surgery, we perform an extensive evaluation of the injury to determine whether surgery is actually needed. If we find that your ACL is only partially torn, we may recommend more conservative treatments, such as rest and physical therapy.
If, however, your ACL tear is significant or complete, know that watchful waiting is rarely effective. In most cases, complete tears don’t heal properly on their own, potentially leaving you with chronic knee instability. That instability may only be present when you’re active, or it can impact you at all times.
To avoid this long-term outcome, we recommend arthroscopic surgical repair or reconstruction of your ACL (replacing your damaged ligament with a graft), which boasts an impressive 80-90% success rate.
We understand that surgery is never a top choice, but there are times when it’s your best path forward for regaining stable mobility.
Ultimately, the decision to undergo ACL surgery largely depends upon your needs and goals. If you’re active, we very much recommend ACL repair surgery. If, however, your more active days are behind you, we can try a more conservative approach.
In either case, your participation in the healing process can make all the difference when it comes to results. That means adhering to our physical therapy suggestions and allowing time for the tissue to heal.
If you’d like to explore further whether an ACL repair is right for you, please contact our office in The Woodlands, Texas, to set up a consultation.