What is an ACL injury?
The anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) stabilizes your knee while you play sports, run errands, or go for a walk. ACL injuries are common and can occur by pivoting quickly, landing awkwardly, or stopping suddenly.1 Most ACL injuries require surgery. If you feel a popping sensation in your knee, experience swelling, have no range of motion, and/or are in severe pain, you may have an ACL injury.
What are the symptoms of an ACL tear?
Common symptoms of an ACL tear include pain, swelling, trouble moving your knee as you used to, and putting weight on it. You may also hear a pop or feel a popping sensation in your knee.1
If I have an ACL injury, will I need surgery?
While some patients may respond to nonsurgical treatment, most people with an ACL injury will need surgery. Factors such as age, activity level, and the severity of the injury will determine treatment.
What treatment options are available?
Your doctor will determine the best treatment for you based on the tear location and other factors. ACL repair, a procedure that reattaches the torn ligament to the femur bone, may be the right treatment. If ACL repair is not possible, your surgeon will likely perform an ACL reconstruction, which removes the damaged ligament and replaces it with a graft.
What is ACL repair? What are the benefits?
ACL repair is a minimally invasive procedure that reattaches your torn ligament to the femur bone. Benefits of ACL repair include preserving your own anatomy with less injury to your body, smaller incisions, and less postoperative pain with fewer prescribed narcotics.2 This procedure also allows for earlier return to sport and activity.3
Can anyone with an ACL tear get an ACL repair?
Only certain types of ACL tears can be repaired. The tear location on the ACL plays a big role in determining whether it should be repaired or reconstructed. Other factors include the quality of the remaining tissue, when the injury occurred, and the patient's age and activity level.
Can any doctor perform an Arthrex ACL repair procedure?
Arthrex ACL repair is an innovative procedure that not all surgeons perform. Using the latest research-backed cutting-edge technology, the ACL Repair TightRope® implant helps your surgeon precisely repair your ACL with the least invasive approach. But like all surgeries, the Arthrex ACL repair procedure requires extensive training and knowledge to include in a surgeon’s practice. Use the Find a Doctor button to connect with a surgeon who understands the range of treatment options and find out if you qualify for ACL repair surgery.
What is all-inside ACL reconstruction? What are the benefits?
All-inside ACL reconstruction is a bone-preserving technique that is less invasive than alternative reconstruction techniques.4,5 The damaged ligament is removed from the knee and replaced with a graft, typically harvested from the quadriceps, patellar, or hamstring tendon. Benefits include fewer tunnels drilled in the bone, resulting in less pain4,6-8 and suffering.6-8 This procedure also has consistent outcomes,4,5 and long-term clinical data shows that patients experience better knee stability and range of motion9 and faster recovery than patients who underwent traditional ACL reconstruction.10
Can any doctor perform the Arthrex all-inside ACL reconstruction?
Arthrex all-inside ACL reconstruction uses specific, clinically proven, minimally invasive technology that only some surgeons choose to incorporate into their practice. Use the Find a Doctor feature to connect with a surgeon who understands the range of treatment options for ACL injuries.
Supplemental Treatment Options
Is there anything else that can be done to improve the likelihood of a good surgical outcome?
There are additional procedures that your doctor may decide to perform to support your ACL repair or reconstruction. Extra-articular augmentation, which can reduce the risk of reinjury after ACL surgery; the InternalBrace technique, a supportive procedure that acts like a seat belt for your ACL; and biologic products designed to encourage healing are some additional treatment options that may help improve your surgical outcome.
What is the InternalBraceTM technique, and how can it help me?
The InternalBrace technique provides an extra layer of protection for your reconstruction or repair, especially in the first 6 weeks to 3 months of healing. The InternalBrace technique helps secure the ligament or graft to the bone during the healing phase, which may reduce the risk of further injury or instability.8,12-14 Benefits of the InternalBrace technique include reducing pain and discomfort by distributing weight evenly across the knee10,14 and improving the function and range of motion of your knee, which may help you return to your normal activities sooner.8,10,14
The InternalBrace surgical technique is intended only to augment the primary repair/reconstruction by expanding the area of tissue approximation during the healing period and is not intended as a replacement for the native ligament. The InternalBrace technique is for use during soft tissue-to-bone fixation procedures and is not cleared for bone-to-bone fixation.
What is extra-articular augmentation, and how can it help me?
To help with rotational stability and to minimize the risk of reinjuring your ACL,15,16 additional procedures to support other parts of your knee—like anterolateral ligament (ALL) reconstruction or iliotibial band (ITB) tenodesis—may be included in your repair or reconstruction. Clinical studies show that combining these types of procedures with an ACL repair or reconstruction may help improve patient results.15,16
What is biologic augmentation, and how can it help me?
Biologic treatment uses cells from your body to stimulate healing and help your recovery. This could include a bone graft with platelet-rich plasma (PRP) or a technique called the BioACLTM procedure, which combines PRP, harvested bone, and other biologic components placed at the surgical site to augment your ACL reconstruction.
Are ACL repair and reconstruction procedures covered under insurance?
Most health insurance companies recognize that ACL tears in active patients require treatment. Coverage details will depend on the patient’s specific insurance plan.
How long is the typical recovery time for ACL repair compared to ACL reconstruction?
While there is no set time frame for either surgery, the average recovery time for ACL repair is less than the average recovery time for ACL reconstruction. Clinical studies show that 70% of adult patients returned to knee-strenuous sports and 60% to preinjury levels 180 days after surgery.3 For ACL reconstruction, it could take as long as a year or more to get to preinjury levels.1
What will my knee look like after surgery? Will I have a scar?
Immediately after surgery, your knee will be bandaged and may be swollen. When the bandage is removed, you will see incisions with stitches.
The number of stitches and size of incisions depends on if you underwent an ACL repair or ACL reconstruction, and in the case of reconstruction, which graft was used to reconstruct your ligament. Generally, the small incisions heal within a few weeks, and you may have small scars.
How much pain will I be in after surgery?
Arthrex Knee Preservation is a minimally invasive approach to ACL surgery and results in less pain and morbidity than traditional ACL techniques.2
During all-inside ACL reconstruction, there are fewer tunnels drilled in the bone, resulting in less pain and suffering than traditional techniques.6,7,9,17 The type of graft chosen to reconstruct your ligament also impacts your pain level following surgery.
Please note that each patient experiences and tolerates pain differently. You will probably feel some pain following surgery, and your surgeon will work with you closely to monitor and help manage your pain.
Will I need physical therapy?
Physical therapy is necessary after an ACL repair or reconstruction procedure to properly strengthen and recover the knee. Rehabilitation varies for each patient, and your surgeon will customize your regimen specific to you.
When can I drive a car after surgery?
Your surgeon may require a functional assessment before clearing you to operate a vehicle after ACL surgery. When you can safely drive a car will depend on several factors, including which knee (left or right) was injured, your range of motion to safely operate the gas and brake pedals, and when you stop taking prescription pain medication. When a patient can drive after surgery will be based on the surgeon’s recommendation and depends on their personal preference and post-op protocol.
When can I return to work or school?
Several factors determine when you can return to work, including your profession, your work environment, and how you feel after your procedure. Your surgeon will recommend a timeline specific to your needs and recovery process.
When can I return to sport or activity?
Several factors impact when you will return to sports or activities, and not every patient will return at the same time.
Typically, recovery time is shorter for ACL repair patients.3 After ACL reconstruction, it could take as long as a year or more before a patient can safely return to sports and activities. A longer recovery period may reduce the risk of reinjury.18 Your surgeon will work closely with you to customize your timeline and determine when you can safely return to play.