Causes & Diagnosis of ACL Tears
The anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) is a ligament that runs diagonally in the center of the knee joint, helping to stabilize the joint. It is most commonly injured during sports play, but nonathletes can suffer ACL tears, as well.
Common causes of ACL injuries include:
- A sudden, rapid change in direction while running
- Coming to a sudden stop while running
- Landing incorrectly from a jump or fall
- Direct collision, such as a tackle in football
An ACL tear must be diagnosed by a qualified medical professional like Dr. Cahill in order to receive proper treatment. Diagnosis typically involves a physical examination, and may also involve imaging tests like x-rays or MRIs. However, if a patient experiences pain and swelling of the knee, tenderness along the joint line, inability to fully bend or straighten the knee, or discomfort while walking, you should seek medical care. These symptoms may indicate the possibility of an ACL tear.
A torn ACL will not grow back together without surgery. Surgery is typically recommended for an ACL tear so that the patient can regain normal knee function.
ACL Reconstruction Procedure
Dr. Cahill uses arthroscopy to perform ACL surgery. Arthroscopy involves a small camera called an arthroscope, which is inserted into the knee via a small incision. The camera displays images on a monitor, allowing your surgeon to view and repair or reconstruct the ACL without having to make a large incision. He then inserts small operating instruments through additional small incisions to complete the procedure. This method makes recovery much easier on the patient than a single, large incision.
If the ACL tear is small, your surgeon may be able to stitch the tear back together. However, in more severe cases, the ACL must be reconstructed using a tendon graft to provide necessary strength and stability to the ACL. Tendon grafts may be taken from the patient’s patellar tendon, hamstring tendon, or quadriceps tendon. In some cases, a cadaver graft may be used. Dr. Cahill has extensive experience with all of the available tendon graft options. Based on the patient’s individual needs and condition, they will select the graft that will yield the best results for the patient.
Recovering from ACL Reconstruction Surgery
Because arthroscopy is less invasive than open surgery, recovering from ACL reconstruction surgery is much easier on patients than it was in the past.
Patients may need crutches for the first couple of weeks to help them get around, and are usually able to start putting weight on the knee soon after. A brace may also be recommended to help support the knee during the initial recovery period. Dr. Cahill utilizes a multi-modal pain management strategy to help patients manage pain so that they are able to participate in physical therapy.
Physical therapy is progressive, starting with passive motion and graduating to exercises that improve the strength and stability of the knee. This is a crucial component in regaining normal knee function.
Most patients are able to resume exercises like jogging within 3 months of surgery. Most athletes are able to return to their sport after ACL surgery; however, it often takes as long as 6-9 months to properly rehab the knee so that it is able to withstand more rigorous athletic activity without the risk of re-injury. Your surgeon will advise when it is safe to return to activity.
ACL Reconstruction Surgery in Hackensack, NJ
Dr. James Cahill is fellowship trained in sports medicine and has over 20 years of experience with orthopedic surgery. He keeps current on the latest techniques and research for ACL reconstruction surgery so that they can continue to provide the best possible results for patients. If you would like to schedule an appointment with Dr. Cahill, please call our office at (201) 489-0022.
About ACL Reconstructive Surgery
ACL tears are among the most common knee injuries, particularly in athletes. This injury typically requires ACL repair or reconstruction surgery in order for the patient to regain full function of the knee.
ACL surgery can be very nerve-wracking for patients and their families. Previous ACL reconstruction techniques were associated with a very painful and difficult recovery for the patient. The newer, more advanced ACL reconstruction and pain management techniques that Dr. Cahill utilizes has made this procedure and recovery much easier on the patient.
Dr. James Cahill has extensive experience with ACL reconstruction surgery, with over 20 years of experience in orthopedic surgery. He is fellowship trained in sports medicine, with ACL surgery comprising a key part of that training. He also keeps current on all of the latest techniques and research on ACL reconstruction.