Sport is good for you – except when it isn't. One common injury for skiers (and footballers) is a rupture of the anterior cruciate ligament. At BMI, our specialists bring in-depth expertise in knee surgery to get you back on your feet – and even back on the slopes.
Here, Derek Bickerstaff, consultant orthopaedic surgeon answers questions about a common sports injury – rupture of the anterior cruciate ligament.
What is the ACL?
The anterior cruciate ligament is one of the important ligaments that stabilise your knee joint. If you have torn (or 'ruptured') this ligament, the knee can collapse or give way when you make twisting or turning movements.
What are the benefits of surgery?
If your ACL reconstruction is successful, your knee should no longer give way. This will allow you to be more active and return to some or all of your sporting activities.
Are there any alternatives to surgery?
Physiotherapy can strengthen and improve the co-ordination of the muscles in your thigh. In turn, this can often stop your knee giving way during everyday activities. Wearing a knee brace may also help during sports activities.
What does the operation involve?
Your surgeon will make one or more cuts on the front and sides of your knee. Some surgeons perform the operation by arthroscopy ('keyhole' surgery) using a camera to see inside the knee. Your surgeon will replace the ACL with a piece of suitable tissue (a graft) from elsewhere in the body. The top and bottom ends of the replacement ligament are fixed with special screws or anchors into 'tunnels' drilled in the bone.
A variety of anaesthetic techniques are possible. The operation usually takes between an hour and an hour and a half.
How soon will I recover?
You'll usually be allowed home the same day, or the day after. Your surgeon may want you to wear a knee brace for a few weeks after the operation. Once your knee is settling down you will need to start intensive physiotherapy which may run for as long as six months. Regular exercise should help you to return to normal activities as soon as possible. Before you start exercising, get the advice of the healthcare team or your GP. Bear in mind your knee is unlikely to be quite as good as it was before the original injury.
For more information about your nearest BMI Sports Injury Clinic call us at 0808 101 0337 or make an enquiry with us here.