ACL reconstruction is a minimally invasive arthroscopic procedure. This means it uses fewer incisions than traditional knee surgery. In the weeks leading up to surgery, you may be prescribed physical therapy to minimize pain and swelling and increase or restore your full range of motion. This will set you up well to regain full range of motion after surgery.
Your care team will provide you with instructions to follow before surgery. These instructions will include what types of medicines you need to stop taking and how long before surgery you will need to stop eating.
During ACL surgery, your orthopedic surgeon will place a connective tissue graft in the knee to repair your ACL tear. This graft will come from either your patellar, hamstring, or quadriceps tendon. An allograft (from a cadaver) patellar tendon may also be used. Your body will heal around it over the course of several months.
You can expect general anesthesia to be used to keep you comfortable. ACL surgery is performed through several small incisions. One will hold a thin, narrow video camera (called an arthroscope), and the others allow the surgical instruments into the joint space.
Your doctor will remove the damaged ligament and replace it with a graft from a tendon in another part of your knee. Next, your doctor will attach and secure the graft with screws to your thigh bone and shin bone. This tendon will now serve as a frame for your new ligament tissue to use to grow.
In most cases, you’ll be able to go home the same day as your surgery. Depending on your age, overall health, and extent of your injury, you may have to use crutches and wear a knee brace. These will help stabilize your knee during the healing process. Your doctor will provide you with instructions to control pain and swelling, when you should ice, how long to use crutches, when you can shower or bathe, and how to manage your wound.
After surgery, you will begin progressive physical therapy. This will help to strengthen the muscles around your knee and will improve flexibility. You’ll work with a physical therapist in their office and will have additional exercises to do at home.
It is essential to follow your rehabilitation plan for the best possible outcome. With time, most people can resume everyday tasks and sports. Consult with your doctor before returning to any activities or beginning new ones. It may take eight to 12 months for you to recover fully.
You may continue to wear a knee brace for added security when playing sports or during activities that place a high amount of strain on your knee.
ACL reconstruction with focused rehabilitation is usually successful in restoring strength and allowing you to return to your normal activities without pain. Follow your doctor’s instructions regarding when to return to activities and how to strengthen and retain flexibility for the best results.
The information contained in this article is meant for educational purposes only and should not replace advice from your healthcare provider.