Anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) surgery replaces the damaged
ligament with a new ligament called a graft. In most cases, the graft is a
tendon taken from your own knee or hamstring. In some cases, the graft comes
from a donor.
Your doctor uses a lighted
tube called an arthroscope, or scope. He or she puts this and other surgical tools through small
cuts in your knee. Your doctor may make a larger cut to take the
graft from your knee or hamstring. He or she then replaces the ACL with a
graft. The cuts are called incisions. They leave scars that usually fade with time.
Most people go home on the same day of the surgery or the next day. Your knee
will slowly get stronger as you recover. You may be able to go back to most of
your normal activities within a few weeks. But it will be months before you
have complete use of your knee. It may take as long as 6 months before your
knee is ready for hard physical work or certain sports.
rehabilitation (rehab) after surgery. This will build your strength and improve the motion of your joint. At first, you will get help with the
exercises. Later, you will get exercises to
do on your own. The rehab will last for several months. After surgery and
rehab, you should have less pain and your knee should be more stable. Your knee
should not give out or buckle.
How soon you can
return to sports or exercise depends on how well you follow your rehab program
and how well your knee heals. If you had a partial
meniscectomy, you might be able to play sports in about 1 to 2 months. If you
had meniscus repair, it may be 3 to 6 months before you can play sports.
Follow-up care is a key part of your treatment and safety. Be sure to make and go to all appointments, and
call your doctor if you are having problems. It's also a good idea to know your
test results and keep a list of the medicines you take.
Surgery can be
stressful. This information will help you understand what you can expect. And it will help you safely prepare for surgery.
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Current as of:
May 23, 2016
Adam Husney, MD - Family Medicine
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