Every movement of the knee, from walking to sprinting, is made possible through the extensive network of tendons and ligaments that support the joint. The anterior cruciate ligament (ACL), which provides a majority of the stability in the knee joint and is one of four major ligaments of the knee. It coordinates function and promotes the stability of the knee joint. Because of its importance to each and every movement, the ACL is extremely vulnerable to injury.
Anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) injuries are among the most common injuries requiring orthopaedic intervention, particularly among young adults. The American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons reports that nearly 200,000 ACL injuries occur in the United States each year. These injuries, which include partial or complete tears, usually occur during athletic activity. They are common when a person stops suddenly, changes direction while running or pivoting, or lands after a jump. Sudden impact to the knee, often seen in motor vehicle accidents or work related injuries, may also result in a torn ACL.
If you think you may have suffered a torn ACL, don’t hesitate to contact leading orthopaedic surgeon Sonu Ahluwalia, M.D. You can reach us at 310.651.7099.
Diagnosis of ACL Injury
There are several ways Dr. Ahluwalia can assess the severity of your ACL injury.
- Common symptoms of an ACL injury include pain with moderate physical effort and a feeling that the knee is “unstable”
- Clinical examination of the knee using several physical exams, including the Lachman test, the anterior drawer test, the pivot-shift test and a jerk test
- Radiological examination
- MRI examination
Treatment of ACL Injury
The treatment of choice for ACL injuries may be surgical or non surgical. Dr. Ahluwalia will assess your particular situation and work together with you to make this decision. If decision for surgery is made, an ACL reconstruction is recommended. Clinical studies have shown that ACL reconstruction surgery is highly superior to ACL repair (suturing). Most board-certified orthopaedic surgeons use arthroscopic surgery rather than open surgery for ACL injuries because:
- It is easier to see and work on the knee structures.
- It uses smaller incisions than open surgery.
- It can be done at the same time as diagnostic arthroscopy (using arthroscopy to determine the injury or damage to the knee).
- It may have fewer risks than open surgery.
Arthroscopic ACL Reconstruction Procedure
The operative procedure for ACL injury is called an arthroscopic ACL reconstruction. This surgery uses a graft from a harvest site on the patient’s own body or a cadaver. The goal of the ACL reconstruction surgery is to prevent instability and restore the function of the torn ligament. During the procedure, Dr. Ahluwalia will make small incisions so that a pencil shaped instrument with a camera and lighting system can easily be inserted into the knee joint. The inside of the knee will then be visualized on a monitor and the torn ACL is replaced by the substitute graft made of tendon. The grafts commonly used to replace an ACL come from the:
- Patellar tendon
- Hamstring tendon
- Quadriceps tendon
After your arthroscopic ACL reconstruction surgery a comprehensive rehabilitation program should be followed in order to regain full knee function. After your surgery, you will wake up with a knee brace and go home with a prescription for pain medicine. Specific post operative instructions will be reviewed prior to discharge. You will return for a follow up with Dr. Ahluwalia within 7-10 days, and at that visit he will discuss when to start physical therapy. After a period of rehabilitation and sports training, you will enjoy a successful return to full activities.
Long Term Expectations
ACL reconstruction surgery has a 90% success rate in terms of knee stability, patient satisfaction, and return to full activity. ACL reconstruction also seems to protect the menisci from further injury and slow degenerative changes in the knee joint. Patients who choose to forego ACL reconstructive surgery may experience further injury to the knee joint if the knee instability is persistent. The final decision regarding whether ACL reconstruction is the best treatment for you is based on a number of different factors
Contact a Beverly Hills Orthopaedic Surgeon
Are you suffering from knee pain due to a torn ACL? You don’t have to continue living in pain. Dr. Ahluwalia is a leading expert in ACL surgery. Beverly Hills and out-of-town patients alike can call us today or contact us online to schedule an appointment or to get answers to their questions about ACL surgery.