The anterior cruciate
ligament (ACL) is one of four knee ligaments that connect the upper leg bone
(femur) with the lower leg bone (tibia). When you injure or tear your ACL, your
knee is less stable. It may "give out" when you do not expect it and then
become stiff and swollen.
Surgery can help your knee feel better. But in some cases, the knee
may not be as strong as before it was injured.
This type of surgery
replaces your damaged ACL with a new one. The new one is called a graft. Most of the time, the
graft is a tendon taken from your own knee or hamstring. But it may come from a
After surgery, most people can return to their normal activities.
Your doctor makes several
small cuts (incisions) around the knee. He or she then puts a lighted tube,
called an arthroscope or scope, into one of the incisions. A camera at
the end of the scope sends pictures from inside the knee to a TV monitor in the
operating room. The doctor watches the monitor to do the surgery.
The doctor puts surgical tools through the other incisions. He or she
drills small holes into the upper and lower leg bones where these bones come
close together at the knee joint. The holes form tunnels for the graft. The
doctor takes the graft and pulls it
through these tunnels. Then the doctor attaches
the graft with screws or staples.
Next the doctor closes the incisions with stitches or tape.
And you may get a temporary surgical drain placed in your knee.
will not feel pain during the surgery. You will get medicines to make you sleep
or to numb your leg.
Your doctor also may
repair other injured parts of your knee. These may include ligaments, cartilage, or broken
After you recover, you should have less pain. And your knee should be more stable.
How soon you can return to work depends on your
job. If you sit at work, you may be able to go back in 1 to 2 weeks. If you are
on your feet at work, it may take 4 to 6 weeks. If you are very physically
active in your job, it may take 4 to 6 months.
(rehab) program can help your knee get better faster.
If you commit to your rehab and work hard, you will see a lot of improvement in a few months.
Within a year, you should be able to do all the activities you did before. This includes playing sports. But you may have to wear a brace when you play
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 or nurse call line 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.
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Current as of:
May 23, 2016
Adam Husney, MD - Family Medicine
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