Treatment for an anterior cruciate injury will often involve a few steps. First, the injury must be nursed using the RICE method (Rest, Ice, Compression, Elevation). Exercises will be prescribed in an effort to strengthen and restore the knee. Physical therapy is an integral part of injury treatment whether or not the patient has surgery. For very active people and those with severe injuries, ACL reconstruction surgery is often necessary.
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Rehab / Bracing
When you suffer from an anterior cruciate ligament injury, you may wonder what the rehabilitation process consists of. Much of the recovery depends on your own progress. Before surgery, pre-op and post-op knee exercise instructions will be provided. These instructions can help the knee recovery quicker and successfully.
The most important goal in post-surgical ACL rehabilitation is to restore the knee back to full function. The use of bracing in the recovery process is dependent upon Dr. Millstein and your own personal preference.
One of the best discoveries in orthopedic medicine for athletes was that of ACL reconstruction. While an ACL injury once was a career ending injury, athletes are now able to fully heal thanks to advances in medicine. The anterior cruciate ligament cannot be repaired simply by being mended back together; it must be reconstructed using a tendon graft. There are different graft choices that surgeons make in harvesting the replacement tendon, and the typical choices are allografts and autograft. Each graft has its advantages and disadvantages, but Dr. Millstein can help patients decide which treatment is ideal.
Depending on the severity of the injury, Dr. Millstein may recommend reconstructive surgery to repair the torn anterior cruciate ligament. Anterior cruciate ligament reconstruction is used to rebuild the ligament in the center of the knee, replacing it with a new ligament that is grafted from either the patient or a cadaver. Since the ACL keeps the tibia (shin bone) in place, a tear can cause the knee to give out. Surgery is not always necessary, but it is highly recommended for active individuals.
Evolution of Technique
Advancements of the method of surgery used to repair a torn anterior cruciate ligament have moved the injury from crippling to treatable. Former techniques involved simply repairing the torn anterior cruciate ligament, while newer methods involve the complete reconstruction of the torn ligament. There are a variety of tendon grafts that can be used in reconstructing a torn ACL, but Dr. Millstein will choose which type of graft will be used based on each patient’s unique condition.
Some of the most common tendon grafts used by Dr. Millstein, a Beverly Hills sports medicine specialist, include the following:
- Patellar tendon autograft
- Quadriceps tendon autograft
- Synthetic graft
State of the Art Techniques
Although reconstruction surgery has advanced quite nicely over the years, there is one technique that is considered the “gold standard.” This technique is known as the patella tendon free graft, a method used for patients who require a quick return to their sport following injury. This surgical graft technique also places less strain on the muscles and bones surrounding the anterior cruciate ligament.
Next, learn about ACL revision surgery.