What is the treatment for an ACL injury?
Not all ACL injuries require surgery. A strain or sprain may heal on its own with proper rest and rehabilitation. The severity of symptoms the condition of the ACL will determine if surgery needs to occur.
If the ACL injury does not cause instability in the knee joint physical therapy may be enough to heal the joint. Consideration should also be taken as to the future plans of the patient. For instance, if the patient does not require the use of their ACL for sports or daily activity, they may not require surgical intervention. For ACL injuries that do not cause instability and are not torn, the following non-surgical treatments may be recommended:
- NSAIDs (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs): to relieve pain and reduce swelling
- RICE: Rest, ice compression and elevation
- Bracing: To protect the knee from instability and allow it to heal
- Crutches: Keeping weight off the injured knee and allowing it to heal
- Physical Therapy: Strengthens the muscles around the knee and maintains range of motion
An ACL tear will not heal on its own because there is no blood supply to the ligament. Surgery is needed to restore stability and normal knee function, and can be done arthroscopically. Dr. Nwachukwu is extremely skilled at using arthroscopic surgery to repair an ACL injury. He uses the following to procedure to repair the knee:
- ACL Reconstruction: removes damaged fragments for the torn ACL and replaces it with a soft tissue called a graft. There are two types of graft options available for ACL reconstruction:
- Autograft: The graft is obtained from the patient. Most commonly, the patellar tendon, hamstring or quadriceps tendon is used.
- Allograft: Tissue taken from a donor source, often a cadaver. Allografts offer a quicker initial recovery and lower surgical morbidity from a graft harvest. Allograft ACL reconstruction is however generally not performed in patients under 30 years.