Anterior Cruciate Ligament (ACL) Specialist in Fort Mill
A sprained or torn ACL is a very common injury that can affect anyone. Fortunately, SpecOrtho has you covered. Athletes are more prone to these types of knee injuries as they are often engaging in activities that easily lead to an ACL tear or sprain. Luckily, Dr. Glen Feltham has performed almost 1,000 ACL reconstructions throughout his career.
Where is My ACL?
There are several different ligaments that make up the knee. The role of the cruciate ligaments is to control the back and forth motion of the knee. Cruciate ligaments are located inside of the knee joint, and they cross diagonally across the knee.
The anterior cruciate ligament can be found in the middle of the knee running diagonally to the posterior cruciate ligament at the back of the knee. The purpose of the ACL is to provide stability to the entire knee joint, with a particular importance regarding the tibia and keeping it in place.
ACL Sprains and Tears
There is a gradual scale that exists to measure the severity of injury to the anterior cruciate ligament. This scale consists of:
Grade 1 ACL Sprain – The ACL has been overstretched but is still able to maintain stability of the knee joint.
Grade 2 ACL Sprain – The ACL becomes loose from the amount of strain it has endured. Often, this particular grade of an ACL sprain is also known as a partial tear.
Grade 3 ACL Sprain – This is the worst case scenario wherein the ACL has been torn completely and split into two separate pieces. This leaves the joint unstable.
Although grade 1 and 2 sprains can occur, a grade 3 sprain or complete tear of the ACL is the most common injury sustained by the anterior cruciate ligament.
What Can Lead to an ACL Injury?
As previously mentioned, athletes are more likely to injure their ACL due to the nature of their particular sport or activity. Female athletes are particularly susceptible to ACL injury, as studies have shown. There is no exact reason, but many believe that the answer lies in the subtle differences in the muscular and skeletal systems of men and women.
Most ACL injuries have occurred from:
- Sudden change of direction (cutting)
- Abrupt stops
- Improper landing from a jump
- A collision
- Slowing from a run
What are Symptoms of an ACL Injury?
Those who experience an injury to their ACL will hear a “pop” or feel their knee give out, making the ACL injury quite noticeable. Typically, pain will quickly follow such sounds or sensations, and the joint will begin to swell.
In the case of a minor ACL injury avoiding use of the knee joint with proper rest and relaxation may be enough to repair the damage. Unfortunately, many patients do not give their bodies enough time to heal before returning to sports or regular activities.
More serious injuries such as a partial or complete tear of the anterior cruciate ligament are usually accompanied by worsening pain, loss of range of motion within the joint, tenderness of the area affected, and discomfort during use of the ACL.
ACL Repair Performed at SpecOrtho
It is important to address an injury to your ACL right away, with the help of a professional. Orthopaedic surgeon Glen Feltham MD will provide appropriate treatment options depending upon the exact nature of your ACL injury. When a severe injury occurs to this ligament, an ACL reconstruction is typically recommended by Dr. Feltham. The ACL has a poor blood supply and due to the general anatomy of the knee, the ligament does not heal naturally on its own. The decision to proceed with surgery is dependent on the desired activity level of the injured person and their age. In many cases, reconstruction is required if the patient wishes to return to high level contact, cutting or pivoting sports. ACL reconstructive surgery stabilizes the knee while lowering the risk of future arthritis or meniscus tear.
How is the ACL Repaired?
Dr. Feltham typically treats the ACL in an arthroscopic procedure. This procedure is less invasive and involves the use of tiny incisions, a camera and small surgical instruments to view and assess the knee and surrounding area. Dr. Feltham will begin the torn ACL surgery by viewing the knee with the camera and determining the extent of damage. Because of its limited healing ability, the ligament must then be reconstructed and not just repaired. He will first remove the ligament’s damaged ends. Dr. Feltham will then position a certain replacement graft in the former ACL site and attach it to the thigh and lower leg with adjustable buttons or screws. The goal of the procedure is to place and secure the replacement graft precisely in the right location to reconstruct the damaged ligament.
There are two main types of grafts used in an ACL reconstruction, including:
- Autograft: Donor tissue is harvested from the patient’s quadriceps tendon, patella tendon or hamstring tendon.
- Allograft: Donor tissue is taken from a tissue bank.
The best graft option is determined by the age of the patient and desired activity level and is discussed during you pre-operative appointment.
Recovery and Rehabilitation after ACL Reconstruction or Repair
Patients will be placed in a knee brace and instructed to begin their ACL rehabilitation program immediately following the ACL surgery. Crutches are recommended for approximately two to four weeks following the procedure. A functional style of brace may also be used for the first year after returning to activities. Patients can expect a full recovery and return to sports activities between six to nine months in the vast majority of cases.
To speak with ACL Specialist Dr. Glen Feltham at SpecOrtho, please call (803) 548-6464 today to request an appointment. We’re conveniently located to patients throughout York, Lancaster, Clover and Union counties.