ACL surgery is a common option for the treatment of anterior cruciate ligament ruptures. ACL ruptures are one of the most common knee injuries and occur when the ligament is torn from the knee joint. ACL surgery may be required to stop or to prevent instability in your knee caused by the rupture. This surgery also reduces the risk of future knee problems and minimises the symptoms associated with an ACL rupture.
Am I a candidate?
The decision to have ACL surgery should be based on your level of activity and the laxity of your knee. There are several non-surgical options and physical therapies that can be explored before deciding on surgery.
“ACL surgery is almost always an elective surgery; however, if other ligaments in your knee are also damaged, your knee is giving way, or you require an immediate return to sport, this may call for more urgency,” says Dr. Rhys Clark.
Preparing for surgery
ACL surgery is all about preparation. Ensuring that you can fully straighten your knee before attempting surgery is hugely beneficial for your recovery post-op. Completing physical therapy exercises, icing your knee, and wearing a compression bandage or sleeve are all important in reducing complications and shortening your recovery time.
“Ensuring you have reasonable movement in your knee prior to surgery makes it a lot easier for me to provide you with the best outcome possible.”
What to expect from surgery
The surgery itself involves using a piece of tendon from either the same knee, or sometimes your other knee, and using it to replace the ruptured ligament. Typically, a tendon graft can be taken from your kneecap, or from tendons in your quadriceps. You will have a scar on the front of your knee and two small scars from the use of surgical instruments. You may also experience some numbness on a small area of your knee that should shrink over time. Following your ACL surgery, you can typically return home the morning after.
What about rehab?
Rehab is an essential part of repairing your ACL post-surgery. Your rehabilitation plan may be completed individually or with the help of a physiotherapist. You will need to rest and ice your knee the first week after surgery and, depending on your job, you may be able to work within two weeks. If you work in a more physically demanding line of work, you may be out for two to three months. Returning to light sport training can be possible within four to six months, with a return to play from nine to ten months.
If you opt for a more extensive rehab plan, may have a different recovery and improvement times. Either way, the main aim is to get you back to full use and extension of the knee.
“Knee injuries can be frustrating, but there are options. Helping you return to unrestricted movement means that you can get back to living your sporting or personal life with purpose (and power) again.”