The anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) is one of the most important ligaments in the knee, providing support for our knee joints. However, it’s also one of the most sensitive, and when people suffer knee injuries, they often confront with a torn ACL.
When the ACL gets torn, the suffering person will feel an intense leg pain and the knee will start swelling. This kind of injury is serious and will prevent the patient from performing any demanding activities for several months.
Usually, ACL reconstruction surgery is the fastest treatment for this condition and it can bring the patient to its pre-injury state in six to nine months.
The diagnosis of a torn ACL is not complicated and it can be made in just a few minutes by an orthopedist. The specialist will examine the patient’s knee, looking for any deformities, bruises or swelling, proceeding to notice evidence of knee joint fluid or tenderness. Because there are four ligaments in the knee, the specialist will investigate each one to find the source of the problem.
Surgical Repair of a Torn ACL
Surgical repair is the most advisable treatment for a person who has an active lifestyle. ACL reconstruction surgery is not an urgent procedure; it can be postponed by a couple of days, weeks or even months if the surrounding muscles are affected. The procedure differs from subject to subject but most of the times the specialist will replace the torn ACL with a graft or an autograft, taken from the patient’s body.
Medication For Recovery
After the surgery, the recovery process will be accompanied by swelling and medium pain. The prescribed medication will not speed up the recovery process but will help a lot against pain and swelling. The most recommended treatment consists of anti-inflammatory medication (ibuprofen).
If the pain intensifies, the patient can receive a prescription for narcotics, such as codeine or oxycodone. The treatment will be administered only when the pain is too intense or for a few days after the ACL reconstruction surgery.
Recovery Time From a Torn ACL
The recovery time from a torn ACL can vary from six to nine months — depending on the subject, the intensity of the injury, and the post-operative activities performed by the patient.
To benefit from a faster recovery time, the patient needs to perform some soft physical activities like walking, jogging for short distances or stretching. However, the activities shouldn’t be too aggressive because the patient would risk damaging the repair and breaking the ligament. The specialists recommend half an hour of mild activities per day, for at least two months after the surgery.
What Is the Chance of Total Recovery From a Torn ACL?
Thankfully, the modern surgeries are more precise than ever; between 82 and 95% of the patients fully recover in six to nine months after the intervention. Only 8% of the patients develop graft instability or graft failure, but they can repeat the procedure hoping for a better outcome.
People who don’t have surgery are 50% likely to present some knee instability for the rest of their lives, but this won’t interfere with their daily routine if they don’t perform demanding activities.