The anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) is the most commonly injured ligament in your knee. Unlike other soft tissues, repairing an ACL tear with stitches is not always feasible. If you want to regain optimal strength and function, you need an ACL reconstruction performed by an experienced orthopedic surgeon like Charles P. Capito, MD, in Weirton, West Virginia, Steubenville, Ohio, or Oakdale, Pennsylvania. If you need ACL reconstruction and rehabilitation, schedule an appointment online or call the office nearest you.
The ACL connects the femur (thigh bone) to the top of the tibia (shinbone), but it uniquely runs diagonally through the knee joint. As a result of its position, the ACL prevents the tibia from sliding away from the femur, and it gives your knee rotational stability.
While the other three ligaments in your knee are usually injured by a direct blow, the ACL is prone to injury when you make specific movements, such as:
Based on these movements, you’re at a higher risk of tearing the ACL if you enjoy sports like skiing, football, basketball, and soccer.
You may notice a popping sound or sensation when you injure the ACL. You’ll also develop symptoms such as:
If your injury is mild and your knee is stable, Dr. Capito may only need to immobilize your knee and recommend activity modification until the ACL heals. Otherwise, you’ll need ACL reconstruction.
When your ACL is completely torn or partially torn but the knee joint is unstable, it’s repaired with surgery to reconstruct the ligament. Stitching it together doesn’t produce acceptable results, especially if you want to restore optimal strength and get back into competitive sports.
ACL surgery is usually done about 2-6 weeks after your injury because you need to wait for the inflammation to go down. Additionally, you may develop excessive scar tissue if surgery is performed too soon.
During an ACL reconstruction, Dr. Capito replaces the injured ligament with a graft of healthy tissue. The graft is usually a tendon taken from elsewhere in your body, often a patellar, hamstring, or quadriceps tendon. When necessary, the new tissue can come from a human donor.
Dr. Capito performs your ACL reconstruction using minimally invasive arthroscopic surgery, so you avoid long incisions and recover more quickly. The procedure consists of harvesting the graft tissue, removing the damaged ACL, then anchoring the new tissue to screws placed in the bones.
Following your ACL reconstruction, Dr. Capito starts you on a progressive rehabilitation schedule to gradually rebuild strength, stability, and function.
If you suffered an ACL tear and you have questions about your treatment, or you’d like to determine if you need surgery, call Charles P. Capito, MD, or book an appointment online.