Knee Surgeon Perth | ACL Tear FAQ
ACL Tear FAQ | Knee SURGEON PERTH
Frequently asked questions
Often the best time to have reconstructive surgery is immediately after the injury. This is before muscle wasting and knee stiffness has occurred. This will result in the fastest recovery.
However if there has been a delay in the diagnosis then sometimes the knee has become stiff and this is not the right time to proceed with surgery. It may take several weeks of rehabilitation to restore movement before surgery can proceed safely.
A few weeks of “pre-hab” can take months off the recovery time if stiffness is an issue.
In general terms, reconstructive surgery is not urgent and can be delayed to fit around work and personal schedules. During this time, sport and change of direction activities should be avoided. It is important to continue some “straight line” fitness activities and cycling is ideal.
If there are other injuries such as a meniscal tear which might be a suitable for repair, then you may be advised to have surgery sooner rather than later.
In the great majority of cases, anterior cruciate ligament tears are complete tears of the ligament and healing capacity is very limited. One of the reasons for this is that the tear occurs in a fluid environment. The knee joint contains articular fluid which bathes the torn area and prevents healing.
Sometimes limited healing will occur and can provide an adequate level of stability. Alternatively, the ligament may heal but is longer than it should be and this can still allow for the knee joint to be unstable.
Partial tears are much less common. Even with a partial tear, the knee joint may be adequately stable and reconstruction may not be required.
The anterior cruciate ligament provides stability to the knee particularly with twisting, turning and change of direction activities. Immediately after an ACL tear, your knee will be sore but the pain will settle provided there are no other injuries. The end result of the cruciate ligament tear is an unstable knee, not a painful knee. Most people with an anterior cruciate ligament tear are unable to return to competitive sporting activities without reconstruction. Straight line activities such as walking, swimming and cycling are still possible. Cruciate ligament reconstruction surgery is undertaken to restore stability to the knee joint to improve quality of life and allow sporting activities.
It is also generally accepted that an unstable knee with a torn cruciate ligament is more likely to develop arthritis in the longer term. The risk of arthritis after an ACL tear is increased but that does not mean that it occurs in all patients.
It is safe to allow at least one week before you resume office duties. Light physical duties can resume at six weeks post surgery and a manual occupation is usually deferred until twelve weeks post surgery.
If your occupation involves ladders, scaffolding or roofs, then these duties should be held off until four months post surgery.
Swimming and exercise bike can start six weeks post surgery. Jogging starts approximately twelve to fourteen weeks post surgery.
A return to competitive sports and twisting and turning activities is at eleven months post surgery.