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ACL Injury: Does It Require Surgery?

ACL surgery is the surgical replacement of the anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) in the knee.

3 bones form the knee joint:

  • Thighbone
  • Shinbone
  • Patella (Kneecap)

Ligaments connect these bones internally. ACL is one such knee ligament that stabilizes your knee.

ACL surgery helps to restore a pain-free range of motion, stability, and function to a knee joint after the ACL injury.

Anterior Cruciate Ligament (ACL) Surgery: When Is It Needed?

Not all cases of an ACL torn ligament require surgery.

Your doctor may recommend surgery to treat complete ACL tears for:

  • Young and active individuals who want to return to heavy labor or sports that require extensive movements of the knee
  • Other knee injuries, along with ACL tear
  • Persistent knee pain
  • Knee buckle during routine activities, such as walking

Your doctor may only consider ACL surgery if it suits your needs and lifestyle.

Anterior Cruciate Ligament (ACL) Surgery: How to Prepare?

You may be asked

  • Questions on your complete medical and drug history
  • For a few imaging tests to monitor your overall health condition (ECG or Blood Tests)
  • To Lose excess weight before the surgery through a healthy diet and exercise plan
  • To fast for 12 hours before the surgery
  • To stop smoking for a few days, as smoking delays the healing process
  • To stop taking certain medications like blood thinners as per your doctor's advise

How ACL Reconstruction Is Performed

Surgery is usually performed under anesthesia

The surgeon uses a graft to replace the ligament.

Common grafts are:

  • Autografts (own body parts)
  • Allografts (from donors)

Anterior Cruciate Ligament (ACL) Surgery: Post-Operative Care

  • Take pain medications (as prescribed)
  • keep your incision clean and dry
  • Take adequate rest
  • Apply ice to your knee (to alleviate pain and decreases swelling)
  • Do not miss any follow-up visits

ACL Reconstruction: What to Expect After Surgery?

  • You will be discharged on the same day of surgery if your vitals are stable.
  • You may experience mild pain and restricted movements for several months
  • You will wear a knee brace and crutches for several weeks after surgery.
  • Your doctor will also refer you to physical therapy to help you restore your range of motion and build your knee strength.
  • Full recovery takes at least four to six months but may take a year.

Anterior Cruciate Ligament (ACL) Surgery: When to Call Your Doctor?

Call your doctor immediately if you experience the following:

  • Pain and Fever
  • Swelling or pus discharge from knee joints
  • Bleeding
  • Breathing problems
  • Swelling of the calf, ankle, or foot
  • Inability to urinate or pass bowels

Myth and Fact: Anterior Cruciate Ligament (ACL) Surgery

Myth: The knee has to be cut wide open

Fact: Arthroscopy is the method to reconstruct a torn ACL. With this method, you have less scarring and blood loss. Your knee is not cut wide open, and you will heal faster.

Dos and Don’ts: Anterior Cruciate Ligament (ACL) Surgery

Do's

  • Keep your knee straight
  • Go for physiotherapy
  • Wear the knee brace
  • Use Ice and Heat pads

Don’ts

  • Do not skip medicines
  • Do not plan any surgery in the recovery period
  • Do not put weight on the new knee
  • Do not involve in physical activities