Located in the center of the knee, the anterior cruciate ligament, or ACL, plays a crucial role in mobility. This tough band of tissue connects the back of the femur (in your thigh) to the front of the tibia (in your shin), stabilizing the knee joint and preventing it from rotating as you walk, run, jump, kick, pivot, and perform other movements.
Unfortunately, doing so much puts the ACL at risk for injuries ranging from small, partial tears to total ruptures that cause the ligament and bone to begin to separate from the rest of the joint. Complete and near-complete tears are most common—and because these injuries don’t heal on their own and, if left untreated, can increase the risk for osteoarthritis, meniscal damage, and other knee problems—and surgical reconstruction of the ligament may be required.
Here’s what you need to know about ACL injuries, reconstruction procedures, and how the exceptional orthopedic surgeons at Northwest Extremity Specialists can help you get back on your feet as quickly—and as safely—as possible.
ACL Reconstruction Procedures Rebuild the Damaged Ligament From Scratch
Unlike procedures from the 1970s, in which surgeons attempted to repair torn ACLs with sutures, today’s ACL surgeries are less invasive and much more effective. Rather than trying to fix a damaged ligament—which historically failed nearly 50 percent of the time—modern reconstruction procedures replace the ACL with a tendon graft from your own body (known as an autograft) or from donor tissue (called an allograft) with a much higher rate of success.
Additionally, most ACL reconstructions are now minimally invasive, thanks to the use of knee arthroscopy. This technique uses tiny high-definition cameras and surgical instruments—inserted through small incisions, called portals, in the skin—to help surgeons visualize and treat issues inside the knee joint. After removing the damaged ACL and replacing it with a graft, surgeons use screws or other fixation devices to anchor the graft in place while it grows into the surrounding bone. Because minimally-invasive ACL reconstruction involves less trauma to tissues than traditional or open surgery, patients can often heal faster and return to normal activities sooner.
When to Consider ACL Reconstruction Surgery
Though severe ACL tears won’t heal on their own, not everyone with a torn ACL necessarily requires surgical reconstruction. For example, for patients who are older, have sedentary jobs, or don’t participate in high-impact sports or recreational activities, braces and other conservative methods may sufficiently stabilize the knee joint.
However, ACL reconstruction is typically recommended for young athletes and fitness enthusiasts of any age who hope to return to a high level of activity. Of course, you don’t have to be a top-performing athlete to appreciate the benefits ACL reconstruction can offer. After an ACL injury, surgical intervention can relieve pain, restore range of motion, enable a safe return to activity, prevent re-injury or additional injuries, and reduce the risk of knee arthritis or instability in the future.
Still wondering if ACL reconstruction is right for you? Let us help.
Caring and Capable Guidance for Your Road to Recovery
At Northwest Extremity Specialists, our adept orthopedic surgeons and pain management team gently guide patients through each and every step of the recovery process. We’re here when you need us—from your initial appointment and examination to your final post-operative visit and beyond. Don’t let an ACL injury limit what you can do or ignore it and push through the pain. The world-class orthopedic care you need is just a call or click away.
Schedule an Appointment With an ACL Reconstruction Specialist
Is an ACL injury and resulting knee instability keeping you from your favorite activities? Northwest Extremity Specialists’ esteemed Portland orthopedic surgeons can help you return to the active lifestyle you love.
Complete our online contact form or call us at 503-245-2420 to schedule an appointment with one of our knowledgeable and experienced Portland Metro area orthopedic surgical specialists.