Find the Answers to Common ACL Surgery Questions (Video)

ACL surgery is a common orthopedic surgery used to repair a torn anterior cruciate ligament (ACL). The ACL reconstruction involves using a graft from another site around the knee. While the exact process varies depending on the severity of the injury, it typically requires several months of recovery and rehabilitation. It is important for anyone considering ACL surgery to be aware of the potential risks and benefits associated with this type of surgery.

Town Center Orthopaedics’ Dr. Jeffrey Berg, a specialist in orthopedic surgery and sports medicine, discussed ACL injuries and ACL reconstruction. With his expertise, he answered common questions about ACL injuries.

What is an ACL Injury?

An ACL injury is a tear or strain of the ACL, a band of tissue connecting the thigh bone to the shinbone in the knee joint. Dr. Berg states that the ACL is imperative to knee function.

“The ACL is a ligament in the middle of your knee, and it helps prevent instability in both the front and back direction and in rotation, and any injury to that ligament would be considered an ACL injury,” said Dr. Berg.

Symptoms of an ACL injury include pain and swelling in the knee, difficulty walking or bearing weight on the affected leg, instability or a feeling that the knee is giving way, and a popping sound at the time of injury.

Why Are ACL Injuries So Common in Sports?

ACL injuries are common among athletes, especially those participating in sports involving sudden stops and direction changes. Dr. Berg said the ACL is a very susceptible ligament and can be easily damaged if the joint is under too much stress.

“ACL injuries occur with pivoting and landing injuries,” stated Dr. Berg. “Since those activities are so common in sports, ACL injuries are common. However, they can occur with any activities where somebody jumps and lands or cuts and pivots, such as jumping off a ladder or hiking.”

How Can Athletes Help Avoid ACL Injuries?

Learning how to avoid an ACL injury can keep athletes in the games they love to play. Dr. Berg said that ACL injury prevention measures could help athletes focus on improving their knee strength while also staying and getting in better shape for sports.

“Avoiding ACL injuries can be difficult,” Dr. Berg noted. “Even professional elite athletes who are in top shape and train all the time can tear their ACL. However, something that might prevent injury is staying in good shape. If somebody fatigues, they’re more susceptible to injury. There are some particular ACL prevention programs that we think may be able to reduce ACL injuries to even about 50%.”

To strengthen the ACL and surrounding areas, athletes can strengthen the core and leg muscles, improve balance and agility, and use proper form when jumping and landing. Additionally, athletes should wear appropriate protective gear when participating in sports that involve contact.

Learn How to Prevent Overuse Injuries in Athletes

Is There Any Alternative for an ACL Injury Other Than Surgery?

ACL injury treatment does not always involve ACL tear surgery. There are alternatives to ACL injuries, depending on the severity of the injury. Dr. Berg stated there are two treatment options: nonoperative and operative.

“If people are not involved in pivoting and jumping activities, many of those patients can be treated nonoperatively,” said Dr. Berg. “In those who are involved in pivoting and jumping activities, my recommendation would be for surgery.”

Examples of nonoperative treatments include physical therapy and rehabilitation to strengthen the muscles around the knee joint and reduce pain. If surgery is needed, a minimally invasive procedure is typically performed to reconstruct the ACL

How Can an Athlete Return to Sports After an ACL Surgery?

After an ACL surgery, athletes may be eager to return to their game. However, the process is long, and rushing back to sports may result in more damage. Dr. Berg said returning to sports depends on many factors, like ACL tear recovery time and mental and physical preparation.

“We have to give time for the ligament to heal. As much time as we can give, the better,” said Dr. Berg. “The patient has to be mentally ready to return. Some patients may have fear or reluctance to return to their sport. If you participate in a sport and are reluctant, you’re more likely to be injured.

“Somebody [also] needs to be physically ready,” added Dr. Berg. “They need to have the strength, the endurance, the ability to do the basic skills needed for their sport, and they need to be able to do that safely and without thinking about it.”

After ACL surgery, athletes should follow their rehabilitation program as their doctor and physical therapist prescribed. It is important to increase activity levels gradually and return to sports once the doctor has cleared the athlete for total activity.

Feel Better. Move Better. Be Better.

Town Center Orthopaedics provides expert physicians to help you return to the games you love. Request an appointment for the proper treatment or prevention of ACL surgery and injuries.

We Are Here To Help

Set up a visit at one of our locations today.

Schedule Appointment
Join our Mailing List

TCO provides patients with orthopedic problems the trusted resources and patient-centered advice they need to “Feel Better. Move Better. Be Better.”