Your knee contains four major bands of connective tissue that give the joint stability and movement. While strong, these ligaments are also vulnerable to injury when under stress, especially the anterior cruciate ligament or ACL. This ligament passes across the middle of your knee and connects your shinbone to your thigh bone.
Most ACL injuries occur from sports or fitness activities that stress the knee joint, such as:
- Landing from a jump incorrectly
- Stopping abruptly or suddenly slowing and changing direction
- Pivoting with one foot planted firmly in place
- Sustaining a direct blow to the knee
ACL injuries do not always require surgery. However, when needed, ACL reconstruction provides effective results in 75-90% of cases.
Dr. Jared Tadje specializes in sports medicine and regenerative orthopedics in Meridian, Idaho. Whenever possible, he uses conservative measures to treat ACL tears at Tadje Orthopaedics. But, depending on your injury, ACL reconstruction could provide better outcomes.
How ACL reconstruction works
ACL reconstruction involves removing a torn ligament and replacing it with healthy tendon tissue from another area of your body or a deceased donor. Dr. Tadje performs these procedures arthroscopically, which involves smaller incisions and faster recovery times.
While ACL reconstruction can repair ligament damage, you have to take additional steps in advance to ensure the best results from this procedure.
Individuals who undergo ACL reconstruction on a stiff, swollen knee have more problems regaining proper function after their procedure. As a result, you usually need at least three weeks of physical therapy to restore motion to your knee before having surgery.
Depending on your injury, Dr. Tadje could also recommend bracing and healing the ligament for a short period before having surgery. However, it’s important to work with an experienced provider because waiting too long to fix a torn ACL can lead to additional joint damage, which is more difficult — or impossible — to fix.
Postoperative care and rehabilitation are equally important as the prep work you do before your surgery. By following Dr. Tadje's detailed instructions, including regular icing, physical therapy exercises, and bracing, you can usually expect to have a full range of motion, endurance, and muscle strength within four to six months. However, it can take eight to 12months (or longer) for athletes to resume certain sports.
When to consider ACL reconstruction
Since not all ACL injuries require surgery, it can be challenging to know when reconstruction is an effective option for you.
First, Dr. Tadje assesses the severity of your injury and whether you have other tissue damage in your knee. Then, he discusses your goals and lifestyle. Generally speaking, you can usually treat ACL injuries in less active people with more conservative treatments, like physical therapy. However, Dr. Tadje often recommends ACL reconstruction if you:
- Completely tear your ACL
- Have additional tissue damage in your knee
- Instability or buckling during everyday activities
- Live an active lifestyle, especially if you’re an athlete
- Play sports that require pivoting, jumping, or sudden changes of direction
- Have chronic ACL problems impacting your life
In these cases, ACL reconstruction with physical therapy can restore stability and function to your knee.
Do you have an ACL injury? Schedule a consultation at Tadje Orthopaedics by calling 208-515-2654 or booking online to see if ACL reconstruction could provide effective results for you.