Knee surgery, anterior cruciate ligament
If you tear theanterior cruciate ligament (ACL) in your knee, you may need to have reconstructive surgery.
The ACL is a tough band of tissue joining the thigh bone to the shin bone at the knee joint.
It runs diagonally through the inside of the knee and gives the knee joint stability. It also helps to control the back-and-forth movement of the lower leg.
Knee injuries can occur during sports such as skiing, tennis, squash, football and rugby. ACL injuries are one of the most common types of knee injuries, accounting for around 40% of all sports injuries .
You can tear your ACL if your lower leg extends forwards too much. It can also be torn if your knee and lower leg are twisted.
Common causes of an ACL injury include:
If the ACL is torn, your knee may become very unstable and lose its full range of movement. This can make it difficult to perform certain movements, such as turning on the spot. Some sports may be impossible to play.
The decision to have knee surgery will depend on the extent of damage to your ACL and whether it's affecting your quality of life.
If your knee doesn't feel unstable and you don't have an active lifestyle, you may decide not to have ACL surgery.
However, it's important to be aware that delayingsurgerycould cause further damage to your knee.
It's likely to take at least three weeks after the injury occurred for the full range of movement to return.
Before having surgery, you may bereferredfor physiotherapy to help you regain the full range of movement in your knee. Your physiotherapist may show you some stretches that you can do at home to help keep your leg flexible. They may also recommend low-impact exercise, such as swimming or cycling .
These types of activities will improve your muscle strength without placing too much weight on your knee. You should avoid any sports or activities that involve twisting, turning or jumping.
However, it can be reconstructed by grafting (attaching) new tissue onto it.
The ACL can be reconstructed by removing what remains of the torn ligament and replacing it with a tendon from another area of the leg, such asthe hamstring or patellar tendon. The patellar tendon attaches the bottom of the kneecap (patella) to the top of the shinbone (tibia).
This may be because of other injuries to the knee, such astears or injuries to the cartilage, which happened at the same time as or after the ACL injury.
As with all types of surgery, there are some small risks associated with knee surgery, including infection, a blood clot , knee pain, and knee weakness and stiffness.
However, it could be up to a year before you're able to return to full training for your sport.
Read about how an anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) injury is caused, and the considerations when deciding whether to have reconstructive surgery.
Read about the things you need to consider when deciding whether to have knee surgery, including your age, lifestyle, occupation and whether you play sports.
Information about preparing for knee surgery, including having physiotherapy to regain strength and mobility in your knee, and attending a pre-admission clinic.
Read about how anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) surgery is carried out, either using tissue taken from your own body (autograft) or tissue taken from a donor (allograft).
Read about the possible risks of anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) surgery, including pain and swelling in the replacement ligament, infection or a blood clot.
Find out about recovering from anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) knee surgery, including advice about physiotherapy, gentle exercises and using painkillers.