An anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) injury refers to the tear or sprain of ACL. It not only takes athletes out of the game but also poses questions, such as “When can I return to play?” and “Is my career over?”. In this regard, answers come through the orthopedic surgeons of the 100,000 to 200,000 active people suffering from this knee injury. In St. Peters, MO, surgical repair can be the best option for individuals with a strong desire to regress to their most loved activities and sports careers.
Let’s talk about the causes, symptoms, and treatments of ACL injury and where you can go for the best consultations and comprehensive care.
The ACL Injury
The ACL (anterior cruciate ligament) is one of the four tough bands of fibrous tissue crossing the interior of the knee joint. It connects the shin bone and thigh bone, providing weight-bearing support, stability for ambulation, and other movements.
The ACL takes on substantial stress when a man or woman is involved in particular sports, such as basketball, soccer, football, and hockey–either as a pro or an amateur.
These sports feature quick changes in direction, called cuts, and sudden starts and stops. These prompt movements impose a lot of pressure on the ACL, resulting in a stretch, partially tear or completely tear of ACL.
Its symptoms include:
- A distinct popping noises
- Pain and joint tenderness
- Limited (or no) ability to bear weight and walk
Diagnosis and Treatment
Diagnosis of an ACL tear depends on individual symptoms, a hands-on physical assessment of the knee and digital imaging, including X-rays (to rule out bone fracture and other injuries) and an MRI. The MRI is the diagnostic test that best visualizes an ACL problem. The orthopedic surgeon in O’Fallon can advise the individual on the exact diagnoses and treatment plans.
The most serious ACL injury is the A-grade 3ACL tear, with a complete tear of this ligament. Without surgery, the patient cannot ambulate successfully or return to his or her sport, exercise activity, or physically-involved job. Bracing, physical therapy, and pain medications help lesser injuries, such as stretching of the ACL or a mild, partial tear.
ACL Repair and Patient Outcomes
The goals of the procedure include the return of full function, strength, and range of motion in the knee.
Many of these repairs are done with small incisions and tools called arthroscopes that help to graft with one of the three kinds of tendons:
- A portion of the patient’s own patellar tendon
- A portion of a hamstring tendon
- A donor graft also called an allograft or cadaver graft
To install the graft, the doctor first removes the damaged portions of the ACL and then sutures the graft into place. Also, the doctor will move the knee to test its range of motion and stability. A bandage and pain medication finish the procedure.
Is This a Career-ending Injury?
Any athlete would wonder about this possibility. However, ACL repairs are highly successful, with most people–athletes or not–returning to their normal level of functioning, sports, and jobs within six to nine months.
However, rehabilitation and recovery are very individualized. Patients can rely on assistive devices and intensive physical therapy to improve endurance, muscular strength balance, and coordination.
The American Sports Medicine Institute reports that major league baseball players return to full participation more easily than other pros because their sport requires less sudden stopping, starting, and twisting.
NBA players seem to return to full participation more often than other kinds of athletes. However, their recovery and rehabilitation are longer and more complicated because of the jumping, and other sudden maneuvers basketball requires.
In short, advances in orthopedic surgery have remarkably helped injured athletes. These state-of-the-art procedures save careers that would have ended or been substantially abbreviated by an ACL injury.
Exceptional Sports Medicine in the Greater St. Louis, MO, Area
If you are worried about your sports injuries, visit no other than Advanced Bone & Joint Center in St. Peters, O’Fallon, and Wentzville, NJ. We have three sports medicine specialists on staff: Drs. Melander, Jarman, and Larkin, with advanced technology and experienced team. Our facility is well equipped with various on-site services. We encourage you to take advantage of their expertise in helping you avoid, prevent, and treat sports injuries, including ACL problems.
To schedule a consultation at one of our three locations: St. Peters, Wentzville, and O’Fallon, contact us today at (636) 229-4222, or request your visit online.
We look forward to serving you!