It’s no secret that sports can be incredibly dangerous. One of the most common sports injuries is a torn ACL. This injury can often lead to long-term damage and significantly affect our quality of life if it is not properly repaired.

In this blog post, we will discuss what happens if you don’t repair a torn ACL. We will also talk about the dangers of not getting surgery for this injury.

Anatomy and Significance of the Knee

The knee joint is one of the most complex joints in the human body. It is made up of the lower leg bone or the shin bone (tibia), the upper leg or thigh bone (femur), and the kneecap (patella). The knee joint acts as a shock absorber, allowing the leg to absorb impact when walking or running.

The knee joint is also responsible for stabilizing the lower leg and providing a fulcrum for movement at the hip and ankle. The hamstring tendon and quadriceps tendon attach the muscles of the thigh to the bones of the lower leg.

These tendons help to stabilize the knee joint and enable the leg to extend and flex. Without the knee joint, everyday activities such as walking and climbing stairs would be very difficult. Additionally, the knee is also made up of ligaments.

Kinds of Knee Ligaments

Posterior Cruciate Ligament

The posterior cruciate ligament, or PCL, helps stabilize the joint by crossing the knee from the back of the femur to the front of the tibia. It is one of four main knee ligaments and is located in the center of the knee.

Medial Collateral Ligament

The MCL, or medial collateral ligament, is a band of tissue that runs along the inner side of the knee. It attaches the thighbone to the shinbone and helps to stabilize the knee joint.

The MCL can be injured in a number of ways, but the most common type of MCL injury occurs when the knee is hit from the outside, causing the MCL to stretch or tear. 

Anterior Cruciate Ligament

The anterior cruciate ligament, or ACL, is located in the front of the knee. It crosses the knee joint in front of the PCL, connecting the femur to the tibia. It also helps keep the knee from hyperextending.

You’ll experience an unstable knee if any of these ligaments are damaged. A torn ACL, for example, can cause the knee to give out unexpectedly.

As a result, it is important to be aware of potential ACL injuries and take steps to prevent them.

Types of ACL tears

While there are three types of ACL injuries, there are two types of ACL tears: a complete tear and a partial tear.

A complete ACL tear is when the ligament is completely torn, whereas a partial ACL tear is when only part of the ligament is damaged. Both types of ACL tears can be extremely painful and may require surgery to repair.

Recovery from an ACL tear can take several months, and it is important to rest and avoid high-impact activities during this time. For those who participated in competitive sports, a torn ligament can be a career-ending injury, so seek medical attention as soon as possible if you suspect you have torn your ACL.

However, some might oppose having ACL surgery, even if the injury is severe.


Reasons Why Some Reject Surgery

When it comes to ACL tears, reconstructive surgery is the most common intervention. However, it’s no secret that this surgical procedure can be a scary proposition. Not only is there the risk of complications during the procedure itself, but there’s also the anxiety of waiting for the surgery to take effect and hoping that everything will return to normal.

For those with an ACL injury, this anxiety can be magnified tenfold. The ACL is one of the most important ligaments in the human body, and an injury to this crucial ligament can have a major impact on both mobility and quality of life.

As a result, it’s understandable why many people with an ACL injury are hesitant to undergo reconstructive surgery.

However, with the help of a skilled surgeon, the majority of ACL surgeries are successful in returning patients to their previous level of function. While there is always some risk involved in any surgery, for most people, the benefits of successful ACL surgery far outweigh the risks.

Risks of not taking surgery:

  • Knee Instability
  • Lead to early osteoarthritis
  • Prone to experience more injuries

ACL Reconstruction Surgery

During this procedure, small incisions are made in the knee, and a new ACL is created using a tendon from another part of the body. The recovery process can be long and difficult, but the surgical repair itself is relatively quick and straightforward.

In most cases, it takes about an hour to complete, and then you head on to the recovery room. The reasons for having this surgery are numerous. First, it can help to improve your range of motion and reduce pain. Second, it can help to prevent further damage to the knee joint. And finally, it can help you regain full function of the knee.

For these reasons, ACL reconstruction surgery is an important treatment option for those who have suffered a knee injury.

ACL Graft

One of the most common surgical interventions for ACL injuries is the placement of a graft. Grafts can be made from either tissue taken from the patient’s body (autograft) or from donor tissue (allograft). The most common autograft is the patellar tendon graft, which is taken from the kneecap.

Other common autograft options are:

– Hamstring tendon graft: this is taken from the tendons of the muscles that run behind the knee.

– Quadriceps tendon graft: this is taken from the tendons of the muscles in front of the knee.

The most common allograft is the cadaveric ACL, which is a tissue donation from a deceased donor. Allografts have the advantage of being readily available and can be used in patients who are not good candidates for autograft surgery.

The main advantage of an autograft is that it is less likely to be rejected by the body. However, it can also cause more scarring and may disrupt growth in young patients.

Allografts have the advantage of causing less scarring, but they are more likely to be rejected by the body. In addition, allografts may carry the risk of transmitting diseases. The type of graft that is used will depend on the individual patient’s needs and preferences.

Non-surgical Treatments

There are a number of nonsurgical treatments for ACL injuries including joint-focused knee exercise programs, knee braces, elevation, ice, medications, and physical therapy.

  • Joint-focused knee exercise programs are growing in popularity. There are even specific pieces of exercise equipment made for the sole purpose of improving your knee joint health.
  • A physical therapist can help to improve the range of motion and reduce pain and swelling in your knee. They may also recommend exercises to help strengthen the joint. In some cases, a physical therapist may use ultrasound or electrical stimulation to help reduce pain. This is also one of the most reliable treatment options
  • Injections of corticosteroids or other medication may also be used to treat joint pain.
  • Knee braces can help stabilize the knee and protect it from further injury.
  • Icing your knees for 15-20 minutes can help reduce inflammation.
  • Medications such as ibuprofen can help reduce pain and inflammation while you’re recovering from surgery.

If these nonsurgical methods do not provide relief, crutches may be necessary to avoid putting weight on the knee until a surgical option can be performed.


Trust in ACL Surgery

It can be hard to trust in surgery, especially when it comes to something as serious as your ACL. However, it is important to remember that ACL surgery is very successful, and it can help you return to your previous activity level.

For young athletes, in particular, ACL surgery can be vital in preserving the growth plate and ensuring a full recovery. It can be difficult to have faith when facing surgery, but there is hope. With the help of a skilled surgeon and the right exercises and equipment, you can make a full recovery and get back to the activities you love.

About the Author

Hi there! I’m Dr. Keagen Hadley, OTD, OTR/L. Straight out of the University of Mary, I’m all about blending my know-how in knee health, well-being, and medical technology. As a licensed occupational therapy doc, I’m here to translate complex concepts into clear, actionable insights – whether it’s knee care or groundbreaking healthcare tech.

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