What Type of ACL Tear Treatment Do You Need?

Meghan Bishop, MD April 26th, 2019

An ACL Tear Specialist Can Determine Whether You Would Benefit from Conservative or Surgical Treatment

Anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) tears can be devastating to an athlete’s career when they are not treated properly. No one wants to be the teammate that twists their knee and has to leave the field for months at a time. Yet, anyone who plays high-impact sports faces the risk of sustaining an ACL injury. What can be done if it happens to you?

For NYC residents, expert ACL tear treatment near Kips Bay offers relief for this knee injury. The orthopaedic specialists at Rothman Orthopaedic Institute provide quality, targeted treatment of ACL injuries.

Does an ACL Tear Require Surgery?

Treatment of an ACL injury varies from patient to patient, depending on the degree of injury and the patient’s health history and goals. Some ACL tears have a favorable prognosis with rest, rehabilitation, and careful medical oversight.

Knee instability is the most common symptom of an ACL tear, presenting the greatest threat to appropriate knee functioning. In non-surgical treatment, progressive rehabilitation exercises are used to restore stability of the knee. A knee brace can also help prevent instability, protecting the patient against re-injury. Patients who do not opt for surgery may be at greater risk for secondary injury due to repetitive instability.

About half of ACL injuries also involve damage to the articular cartilage, meniscus, or other ligaments. Chronic instability commonly leads to meniscus damage over time. The majority of patients with knee instability present meniscus damage when reassessed ten years after the injury. Non-surgical treatment is recommended for patients:

  • Who do light manual work that does not put a great deal of stress on the knee

  • With partial tears and no knee instability

  • With complete tears, but no symptoms of instability during low impact sports (and who are willing to give up high-intensity sports)

On the other hand, surgical treatment may be indicated for patients who have combined injuries—for example, an ACL and meniscus tear. Reconstruction surgery may be advised even for minor ACL injuries among athletes to ensure a full return to original knee functioning. For that reason, athletes who intend to resume the same level of activity often elect for surgical intervention.

ACL Reconstruction: What Does It Involve?

The purpose of reconstruction surgery is to replace the torn ACL ligament in the knee. During the surgery, the torn ligament is removed and replaced with a tendon graft from another part of the knee or a donor.

The procedure usually starts out with an examination of the knee while the patient is under anesthesia. If this exam strongly suggests a torn ACL, then a tendon graft is prepared for the patient. An arthroscope is inserted into the joint, which ensures a minimally-invasive surgical procedure. Arthroscopy involves very small (one-centimeter) incisions with tiny surgical instruments with a camera attached. The camera appears on a screen, facilitating the greatest degree of precision by the ACL tear specialist. The meniscus and/or cartilage damage are trimmed, while the problematic section of the ACL is removed and replaced.

What Should I Expect from Rehabilitation?

Post-operative physical therapy is crucial to the success of ACL surgery. Full recovery depends largely on the patient’s dedication to rigorous rehabilitation following the procedure. With improved surgical and grafting techniques, physical therapy can be completed at an accelerated rate as compared to in the past.

The first 10 to 14 days following surgery should be focused on keeping the wound clean and dry while regaining the ability to straighten the knee. The knee should be iced regularly to reduce inflammation and pain. Once the doctor has approved the patient’s readiness for physical therapy, a rehabilitation regimen will seek to accomplish the following goals:

  • Reducing knee swelling

  • Maintaining kneecap mobility

  • Improving range of motion of the knee

  • Strengthening the surrounding quadriceps and hamstring muscles

Seek Care from the Best ACL Surgeons in NYC

Any ACL injury will interrupt your athletic seasons, but the most important obstacle to tackle is not letting it interfere with your long-term goals. Rothman Orthopaedic Institute is one of the world ’s most trusted sports injury practices. Our surgeons receive advanced training, completing advanced fellowship programs to attain the highest level of orthopaedic expertise.

Our ACL tear treatment near Kips Bay enjoys high rates of satisfaction among patients in the NYC area.  If you or a family member have experienced an ACL injury recently, don’t delay and put your long-term wellbeing at risk. To make your appointment with a Rothman Orthopaedics ACL tear specialist, please visit us here or contact us at 1-800-321-9999.

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