If you’ve injured your knee playing sports or through everyday activities, you may have torn your anterior cruciate ligament (ACL), one of the key stabilizing ligaments. Unfortunately, complete ACL tears won’t heal on their own. Proper treatment is needed to restore knee stability and prevent additional joint damage.
The good news is that ACL treatment has advanced tremendously, giving you more options than ever to return to the activities you love. This article will explain the latest breakthroughs in ACL repair and reconstruction procedures so you can get back on your feet.
Understanding Your ACL Injury
The ACL runs diagonally through the center of your knee joint, crossing from your thighbone to your shinbone. It prevents the shinbone from sliding forward in relation to the thighbone. The ACL also gives your knee rotational stability when pivoting or changing direction.
ACL tears often occur during sports requiring sudden stops, jumps and cuts. You may hear a “pop” and experience knee instability, pain and swelling. Your orthopedic surgeon will examine your knee laxity and order imaging like MRI scans to confirm the diagnosis and grade the severity of injury.
Some partial ACL tears may be treated nonsurgically in low demand individuals through bracing, activity modifications and physical therapy. But studies show up to 80% of nonsurgical tears eventually require reconstruction surgery due to persistent instability.
Most active individuals and athletes need prompt ACL surgery to quickly restore stability and safely return to sports. Delaying treatment risks further meniscus and cartilage damage. Your orthopedic specialist will advise whether nonsurgical or surgical treatment is best for your tear and lifestyle.
Advances in ACL Reconstruction Surgery
The current gold standard surgery replaces your torn ACL with a graft from your own tendon or cadaver tissue. But new techniques are making reconstructions more anatomical. Advancements include:
- Custom guides for optimal tunnel placement
- Narrower tunnels replicating native ACL anatomy
- Quadriceps tendon grafts matching ACL size and strength
- Accelerated rehab protocols to enable faster return to activity
Repairing the Native ACL
In many cases, your torn ACL can now be surgically reattached instead of replaced. Advantages of repair include retaining the ACL’s natural anatomy and proprioceptive nerve function. Recent innovations enabling successful repairs include:
- Advanced imaging to accurately locate the tear
- Internal bracing for stability during healing
- Bio-scaffolds with growth factors to regenerate ACL tissue
- Earlier intervention within weeks of injury
Results of new primary repair techniques match or exceed reconstruction outcomes for stability and function.
Biologic Enhancement for ACL Healing
Exciting research on biologic solutions to heal ACL tears or generate new tissue includes:
- Platelet-rich plasma injections to deliver growth factors
- Stem cell therapy to differentiate cells into ACL cells
- Collagen scaffolds to bridge tears and optimize the healing environment
While still being perfected, biologic therapies show immense potential for restoring ACL structure and function without grafting.
Partnering With a Caring ACL Specialist
If you’ve suffered a knee injury, promptly consult an orthopedic specialist to discuss your treatment options. Leading sports medicine surgeon Dr. Herrick J. Siegel serves Birmingham, AL and surrounding communities with over 20 years of expertise.
Dr. Siegel partners with patients to determine the optimal individualized treatment to safely return full knee stability and function after ACL injury. He offers the latest nonsurgical options along with advanced reconstruction and innovative repair techniques when needed.
To schedule your appointment at Siegel Orthopaedics, call 205-930-8339 today. Get back on the road to recovery with compassionate, cutting-edge ACL treatment tailored just for you!