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Understanding the Basics Behind ACL Reconstruction
What is ACL Reconstruction?
Whether you’re playing your favorite sport, actively exercising, or just walking in the grocery store, a knee injury can happen to anyone.
There are a variety of knee problems that one can face, whether it’s a joint sprain or strain, afracture, a meniscus tear or disruption of a ligament. One of the most serious injuries is a complete or partial tear of the ACL. Though commonly associated with athletes, ACL injuries can happen to anybody at any time, even when performing normal daily tasks. One wrong step or sudden, forceful turn might result in tearing of this important stabilizing ligament in the knee.
An ACL reconstruction surgery requires the expertise of specially-trained surgeons, like those on our team at Kansas City Orthopedic Alliance. Our expert orthopedic knee physicians perform hundreds of ACL reconstructions each year and have the knowledge and skill you need to help ensure a full recovery.When you visit a specialist at KCOA, we focus on creating a treatment plan based on your specific conditions, symptoms, and recovery goals.
Common signs that may require ACL reconstruction include:
Kansas City Orthopedic Alliance ACL Injuries Assessment
Assessing the Injury
Determining the proper treatment process for ACL injuries starts with an assessment from one of our experienced providers.
You can think of knee pain as a spectrum, with some instances being more severe than others. The KCOA orthopedic specialists always focus on each individual patient and their concerns before creating a treatment plan.
Therefore, during your initial appointment, we will often ask questions such as:
From there, we can decide what treatment option will align best with your needs and lifestyle goals. Once we’ve completed a proper assessment, your provider will often begin with a physical examination to help determine the origin point of your pain. In some cases, advanced testing may be required for a full diagnosis.
Also called radiographs, an X-ray captures a picture of the knee. Orthopedic physicians may order an X-ray to rule out the possibility of a fracture (broken bone), osteoarthritis, or other bone-related conditions.
Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI)
MRI captures images of muscles, bones, ligaments, cartilage, and tendons to help provide information other tests can’t detail. During an MRI, you will lie on a table that slides into a tube-shaped scanner. The machine creates a magnetic field around you, using pulsed radio waves to form the MRI images.
Establishing a Care Plan
Based on the results of your interview, examination, and imaging studies, you can expect a custom care plan catered specifically to you.
Because an ACL tear is normally an acute injury that can cause significant limitations, most patients will seek out treatment immediately. If you are in constant discomfort, have a limited range of motion, significant swelling or an inability to perform your daily activities, seek out treatment for your potential ACL injury. New technologies allow patients with ACL tears to fully recover and enjoy the benefits of a more functional, pain-free lifestyle.
Prior to surgery, you will typically receive at least 2 phone calls:
Dependent on your health history, your physician may require:
Pre-operative instructions will vary depending on your physician and the location of your surgery. Always check with your physician before surgery for specific instructions.
Most physicians require that patients not eat or drink after midnight prior to surgery. Additionally, you will need to designate a family member or friend to drive you home on the day you are released from the hospital. Surgical patients cannot drive themselves home.
Day of Surgery
If you schedule your surgery with a KCOA physician, you can expect the following on surgery day:
How it Works
The ACL reconstruction begins by placing the patient under general anesthesia. In most instances our surgeons will utilize minimally invasive arthroscopic techniques to perform the procedure. This includes a combination of fiber optics and small incisions to access and visualize the knee structures. There are several different grafting options that can be used to replace your torn ACL. Which type of graft is selected is a collaborative decision between the patient and physician. A graft may be harvested from a portion of your own hamstring, quads, or patellar tendon. This is called an autograft. The other option is to have a donor graft known as an allograft.
Your surgeon will remove the damaged tissue and then drill small tunnels into your thigh bone and shinbone to accurately position the new graft. The graft is positioned in the tunnels and secured to your bones with screws or other fixation devices. The knee is then tested for range of motion and stability before the small incisions are closed.
A patient’s recovery plan and timeline will vary based on a variety of factors, including age, activity level, goals, and more. However, taking care of your body is essential to ensure optimal results from your ACL reconstruction surgery. In the immediate aftermath of your surgery, it’s important to keep your foot elevated to reduce swelling. Your care team will also provide you medications to control soreness.
What to Expect
It usually takes six to nine months for a patient to return to participating in sports after an ACL reconstruction, depending on the level of competition and the type of activity. Patients are able to walk with crutches and a leg brace on the day of surgery. Very soon after surgery, the patient enters a rehabilitation program to restore strength, stability, and range of motion to the knee.
Depending on your individual timeline, patients can start more vigorous activity after a few months of recovery.Ultimately return to sport or activity is a joint decision made by the patient, the surgeon and the treating physical therapist following a series of tests to ensure adequate strength, balance and flexibility have been achieved.
Common Signs and Symptoms of ACL Ruptures
With so many different parts working together in your knees, there are many potential causes of pain. And each of those causes has a unique set of symptoms.
ACL tears and injuries are commonly associated with athletic activities. Sudden action and changes of motion (such as planting, running, jumping, and landing) can lead to a tear of the ligament. Though you can treat many knee issues with conservative measures and non-surgical options, including an ACL tear, an ACL reconstruction surgery may be necessary if the patient’s knee doesn’t respond to these treatments.
Causes of Knee Pain
The body has different kinds of joints, and they all face different challenges. The severity of your knee and leg pain can vary based on a number of factors, including the location and the source of the issue.
Many partial or complete ACL tears are non-contact injuries that stem from this sudden twist or rotational force. Although most common in athletics, these types of injuries can happen during normal, everyday motions, such as walking, squatting or bending the knee while twisting.
In most cases, surgery is not the first option for treatment at Kansas City Orthopedic Alliance. If we can treat your knee issues with more conservative treatments, we’ll choose those options. We typically exhaust all non-surgical options prior to recommending surgery. Non-surgical treatments for knee injuries include:
Medications – Your doctor may recommend over-the-counter NSAIDs (Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, such as Advil) or prescription medications. Especially with NSAIDs, you should always talk to your doctor to ensure they are the right treatment for you.
Kansas City Orthopedic Alliance is here to help.
Our care is personal. Our team is knowledgeable. And we’re more available than ever.
With access to board-certified specialists across Kansas City, we have the tools to meet almost every musculoskeletal condition.
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Dr. Ting and his staff are the best!
Dr. Ting and his staff are the best! Sarah his nurse is kind and supportive. Dr. Tings nurse for surgery was absolutely the best! Dr. Ting, I have complete faith in. He is who I shall go to for anything he handles! Can’t say enough about him! Thank you all for making a scary time a completely peaceful event. You are the best!!
Staff is great
…just did my husbands hands on Wed. last week and can’t believe how well he is doing. We have already recommended you to our son and a few others. Your staff is great and my husband doing well. Thanks to you.
I left a very happy patient.
…I arrived a little bit late. I got checked in quickly and was back in a room within 10 minutes. Dr Rhodes was very friendly and took the time to pull up pictures of my surgery and show them and explain them to me. I left a very happy patient.
Dr. Scott Ellsworth is one of the best
Dr. Scott Ellsworth is one of the best I have ever worked with. He is knowledgeable, efficient, caring, and knows his patients. He has a special bedside manner that makes any patient in any situation feel comfortable. All of the nurses and office staff are wonderful as well.
I'm consistently impressed
In the process of treating my particular problem I’ve been to Apex probably 4-5 times. I’m consistently impressed by the professionalism of the staff and the amount of care & time they spend with me as a patient. They’re always very careful to make sure I understand the nature of the medical problem, the reasons for the diagnosis, and the type of treatment recommended. Stephanie’s care and concern is especially appreciated.