I tore my ACL. Should I have surgery?
If you tore your ACL and are passionate about sports and staying active, you might imagine how important it is to have a stable knee. Tearing your ACL can disrupt an active lifestyle and leave you uncertain about your future playing sports and resuming your valued leisure activities. Surgical reconstruction of the ACL will predictably restore stability to the knee, optimize knee function for sports, and reduce the risk of further damage and the onset of arthritis in many cases.
Young athletes and high school age patients with ACL tears almost universally undergo surgery to restore the ACL because permanently modifying activities is unrealistic and there is a very high risk for further damage to the surrounding knee tissues, including the meniscus and cartilage, as the youth grows into adulthood(1). Conversely, older patients, even those over the age of 40 can also benefit from ACL reconstruction because many of these individuals prefer to continue enjoying activities such as pickleball, tennis, basketball, and skiing, that require a stable knee.
When can I have surgery for a torn ACL?
If you sustained a twisting injury or landed awkwardly with pain and swelling it is recommended you seek immediate evaluation. An MRI will confirm the diagnosis of an ACL tear, and permit evaluation of the meniscus and cartilage tissues. If the meniscus and cartilage are intact, it is recommended you perform exercises over a few weeks to regain full motion in the knee and let the swelling dissipate. A painless range of motion with limited swelling prior to surgery can minimize the risk of scar tissue that can cause stiffness and impair your recovery.
There are some instances, however, when very early surgery is recommended, based on findings such as a locked knee or substantial tears in the meniscus called bucket-handle tears. In these cases, delay of treatment can worsen the injury to the meniscus and compromise healing once repair and treatment for the ACL is completed. Dr. Obermeyer will discuss the specifics of timing in your individual case to optimize your outcome with surgery.
How is ACL reconstruction performed?
Surgery for ACL reconstruction is performed through two tiny incisions in the front of the knee that allow Dr. Obermeyer to inspect your knee with a camera and use instruments for the procedure. The surgery for ACL reconstruction is technologically advanced and performed in a minimally invasive manner, called “all inside”. All the work is done entirely from within the knee joint, so you can minimize downtime, swelling, and pain, and have an anatomically restored ACL.
First, the torn ACL is cleaned out and a tiny socket is made in the femur, followed by a similar socket made in the tibia. The graft is introduced from one of the small incisions made in the front of the knee and fixated to the bone. A brief video outlining the procedure is below.
The decision on the source of the tissue used to reconstruct the ACL will be made during your consultation with Dr. Obermeyer, who will review your options with you and make a recommendation for what is best in your specific case.
Which surgeon should I select for my ACL reconstruction?
Choosing a surgeon for a consequential ACL tear is an important one. Dr. Obermeyer has many years of experience treating these injuries and is dedicated to staying at the forefront of the latest advancements in orthopedic care. You can rest assured that Dr. Obermeyer’s expertise and personalized approach will allow you to obtain the best possible outcome following ACL reconstruction and get you “back in the game” stronger than ever.
Schedule an orthopedic appointment
If you have suffered an ACL tear schedule a consultation with knee surgeon Dr. Thomas Obermeyer. Dr. Obermeyer specializes in ACL reconstructive surgery, you’re in expert hands. Dr. Obermeyer has orthopedic offices in Schaumburg, Bartlett, and Elk Grove Village, Illinois. Dr. Obermeyer regularly sees patients from throughout Illinois including Hoffman Estates, Palatine, Elgin, Streamwood, Arlington Heights, and Roselle communities.
- Brophy RH, Lowry KJ. American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons Clinical Practice Guideline Summary: Management of Anterior Cruciate Ligament Injuries. J Am Acad Orthop Surg. 2023 Jun 1;31(11):531-537. doi: 10.5435/JAAOS-D-22-01020. Epub 2023 Jan 18. PMID: 36727995; PMCID: PMC10168113.
At a Glance
Dr. Thomas Obermeyer
- 15+ years of training and experience treating complex shoulder and sports medicine conditions
- Expert subspecialized and board-certified orthopedic care
- Award-winning outstanding patient satisfaction scores
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