ACL tears are one of the most common knee ligament injuries. These injuries occur in collision sports but are increasingly common as non-contact injuries as well. Typically, occurring with a quick pivot or change of direction, ACL injuries can significantly impair agility and rob athletes of their ability to stop and start quickly. Untreated, it is nearly impossible to return to your previous level of athletic competition. Furthermore, there is evidence that untreated ACL tears in younger patients, even those who do not participate in athletics, can lead to earlier development of arthrtitis. Fortunately, these injuries are very treatable. The current gold standard for athletes who sustain a tear of the ACL is a reconstruction of the ligament. This requires tissue to fashion a new ligament and typically involves using hamstring tendons or the patellar ligament. While cadaver tissue is frequently used in many centers, it is recommended that the patient’s own tissue be preferentially used in patients under 30 years of age. Drs. Frush and Bak are well versed in a variety of graft choices and, although reconstruction using one’s native tissue is considered more technically challenging and time-consuming, this is the preferred method for our young athletes and we have extensive experience with this.
While ACL surgery typically allows a high percentage of athletes to return to their prior level of activity, there are nuances created by associated injuries that require appropriate treatment in conjunction with modern ACL surgery. Injuries to the meniscus as well as subtle injuries to other surrounding knee ligaments can occur in the setting of an ACL injury. Unfortunately, these can be overlooked and failure to address these less obvious injuries appropriately can make the difference in joining the 95% of patients who return to sport and the 5% who don’t. Often an afterthought in ACL surgery, meniscus tears are frequently treated with partial removal where the main focus is treating the ACL. At MCO, knee joint preservation is of paramount importance and we are aggressive about repairing and retaining meniscal tissue where appropriate. With the extensive experience we have at MCO, we are always looking at each individual case to ensure that each injury’s nuances are both recognized and treated appropriately.
ACL surgery is done as an outpatient and a brace may be worn for several weeks. Physical therapy starts immediately and is as important as the surgery. Recovery can be rigorous but we guide you through the entire process until we are certain that you have returned to your activities. In the rare case that return to activity is delayed, we will aggressively address any anomalies that slow your recovery. Current recommendations are a 6-8 month recovery period prior to return to high-level athletics.
We are adept in the treatment of both chronic painful joint conditions and emergent injuries, having extensive experience with complex musculoskeletal injuries. Our surgeons have all trained in world-class facilities where the worst of the worst injuries were often flown in for high-level care. We are bringing that expertise to our home state.