If you play football or another type of high-impact sport, then you may be susceptible to a few different types of sports injuries. ACL tears are extremely common and there are a variety of therapies that will be used to help the injury heal. Find out more about what your doctor may do to help you.

Surgical Repair

Torn ACL injuries almost always require surgical repair. The ligament is unlikely to heal on its own, and since your knee retains so much pressure, new tears are common. Due to this issue, your sports medicine doctor will use a graft during surgery to actually replace the torn ligament. There are a few different options in regard to grafts that include taking a piece of a tendon from your own body for the repair. The patellar tendon attached to your knee cap or the hamstring tendon along the lower leg are used for this procedure. If the tissues are not in great condition or have been previously injured, then a cadaver graft will be used instead. 

Once the graft is chosen, your surgeon will use an arthroscopic technique to complete the operation. This involves one or two small openings in the skin and the insertion of the graft tissue. Grafts must be held in place with a steel fixation device to ensure proper healing and to allow you to start rehabilitation as soon as possible.

Most ACL surgeries are relatively quick and you can expect to wear a brace or cast afterward. This will help to minimize pressure on the area in the immediate post-surgical period. And, a brace may be used more long-term to help with the stabilization of the knee. 

Physical Therapy

It will take your ACL a long time to heal. You may be looking at a six month long process for complete healing and return to sports activities. If you are interested in returning to sports, then your physician will want to concentrate on activities to help support the knee. Specifically, strength training will occur to help build the musculature around the area to provide support. 

Before strength and muscle training begins, your doctor will want to ensure that joint mobility has been restored to its original function. This involves the manual movement of the joint soon after your surgery. Movements will progress until you can extend the knee fully without experiencing a great deal of pain. At this time, you will use light weights as well as a treadmill to build up your muscles. 

You should know that therapy is quite slow and steady over the course of months. Try not to push the recovery too quickly or a new graft may be needed. 

For more information about torn ACLs visit https://www.towncenterorthopaedics.com/