The anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) is a ligament that helps to stabilize the knee joint and prevent the leg from sliding forward, as well as excessive movement in any one direction. While it is tough tissue, it can develop partial tears or tear completely.
The ACL can become injured for a variety of reasons, but the most common cause is a sudden change in direction while the foot is planted. This can happen during sports or other activities where there is a lot of cutting and pivoting. Other causes of an ACL injury include direct contact, like tackling in football, falling, or landing awkwardly from a jump.
If you have an ACL injury, your doctor may have recommended surgery, and you may be wondering – can an ACL tear heal without surgery? Let’s find out.
When an ACL Tear Needs Surgical Intervention
Total ACL injuries often need surgical repair because the ligament cannot heal on its own. There is no blood supply to the ligament, which is what’s needed for nutrients to access and heal damaged soft tissue. Partial tears, on the other hand, especially if other soft tissues are also affected, may heal without surgery, however, there is a very high chance that the affected knee will begin experiencing problems later on and require surgical intervention. Only very minor ACL injuries can heal without surgery.
Ligament Reconstruction Surgery
Surgery to repair a torn ACL can be performed using a minimally invasive technique, using very small incisions. Anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) reconstruction is performed in an outpatient setting. During the procedure, the surgeon removes the damaged ligament and replaces it with a tendon graft, which may come from another part of the knee. To position it well, the surgeon will drill holes in your thigh and shin bones and secure it in place with screws. New ligament tissue will eventually grow over the graft.
After surgery, you will need to wear a brace for six to eight weeks and use assistive devices for a couple of weeks until you are able to regain full range of motion and strength in your leg muscles. You will need to start physical therapy soon after surgery and continue it for several months until you have fully recovered function in your knee again.
The first step in treating an ACL injury is to see an orthopedic surgeon, who can recommend the best type of treatment for your injury. The doctor will thoroughly examine the knee and may order X-rays or an MRI to confirm the diagnosis.
ACL Treatment in Bismarck, ND
The Bone & Joint Center has two board-certified orthopedic surgeons who are highly skilled in anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) reconstruction. Dr. Timothy Bopp and Dr. Brian Dahl can use a minimally invasive technique for the surgery for a faster and more comfortable recovery period. Our doctors will determine if you are a good candidate for the surgery and support you from diagnosis to post-surgical recovery.
To schedule an appointment with one of our orthopedic surgeons, call our orthopedic office today at (701) 946-7400 / (866) 900-8650 or use our convenient online request form.