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  • Writer's pictureDr. Terrell Joseph

When to have ACL Reconstruction Surgery

Updated: May 13

ACL Reconstruction

Dr. Terrell Joseph, a fellowship-trained orthopedic surgeon and sports medicine specialist at Vail-Summit Orthopaedics & Neurosurgery (VSON), treats many patients with a diagnosis of torn anterior cruciate ligament (ACL), requiring an ACL reconstruction. He highly values patient education and wants patients to have information to understand torn ACL and his recommended ACL reconstruction treatment.

Torn ACL

The anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) is a vital ligament connecting the thigh bone (femur) to the shinbone (tibia) within the knee joint. It plays a vital role in stabilizing the knee, especially during activities that involve pivoting, jumping, or a sudden change in direction. A torn ACL is a common sports-related injury, often caused by sudden stops, changes in direction, or direct impact to the knee. A torn ACL leads to knee instability, pain, and swelling. If left untreated it can significantly impair your ability to participate in normal physical activity and sports, potentially causing long-term joint damage.

ACL Reconstruction Options

Anterior cruciate ligament reconstruction is a surgical procedure aimed at restoring knee stability and function by reconstructing the torn ACL. The procedure involves replacing the damaged ligament with either the patient's own tissue (autograft), or tissue from a cadaver (allograft).

The choice between autograft and allograft depends on various factors, including the patient's age. For patients under 35 years old, it is recommended to use their own tissue for ACL reconstruction. This autograft option usually involves taking a portion of the hamstring tendon or the patellar tendon to create a new ACL. Utilizing the patient's own tissue tends to provide better long-term outcomes and durability.

On the other hand, for patients above 35 years old or those with specific medical conditions, an allograft may be a more suitable option. An allograft involves using tissue from a deceased donor, typically a cadaver, to reconstruct the ACL. This option is particularly beneficial for patients who may have limited tissue availability or prefer not to undergo an additional surgery to harvest their own tissue.

ACL Reconstruction Recovery

ACL reconstruction is typically performed arthroscopically, using small incisions and a camera-guided instrument called an arthroscope. This minimally invasive technique allows for better visualization, reduced risk of complications, and a quicker recovery. During the procedure, the damaged ACL is removed, and the new graft is secured in place using screws, staples, or other fixation devices.

Following ACL reconstruction, a comprehensive rehabilitation program is essential for optimal recovery, focusing on regaining strength, flexibility, and stability of the knee joint. The duration of the rehabilitation depends on the individual, and may span several months. It's crucial to follow surgeon instructions regarding weight-bearing, activity restrictions, and exercises during the recovery period to maximize an optimal return to knee wellness.

Dr. Joseph is a trusted knee surgeon with expertise in ACL reconstruction. Fellowship trained in ACL surgery, and a patient-centered research-based approach make him an ideal choice for patients. His preference for the patellar tendon graft option further highlights his commitment to providing the best possible outcomes for patients. By placing your trust in Dr. Terrell Joseph's expertise, you can confidently embark on your journey to recovery and regain stability and function in your knee joint.

Dr. Joseph’s personalized approach to care is a top reason patients seek his expertise for the important question of when to have ACL surgery. Request a consultation with Dr. Joseph today.

Call (970) 476-7220 today to make an appointment or submit a request using their online form.

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