Dr. David Geier talks about what's involved with an anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) reconstruction, including average rehabilitation times, risks, and success rates. 000a
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This is typically something that’s surgical. You can make an argument on people in their upper 30’s, 40’s and older that maybe aren’t so active to try and rehab and maybe put them in a brace and try to go without surgery. But typically, in your younger active patient and higher level athlete, you’re talking about surgery. And one of the misconceptions is that you tear your ACL, if you just open up the knee and sew it back together that that would help, but that doesn’t work. We’ve learned that you can’t do that. What you have to do is take out the torn ACL and make a new one either the middle part of the patella tendon or the ham string tendons or even using a graft from a cadaver that you make a new ACL. So as a surgical procedure, it takes about an hour and a half or so, two hours maybe depending on if there’s any other injury at the time like a meniscus tear. It’s an out-patient surgery, very reliable surgery. The problem with ACL surgery is that it’s usually about anywhere from five to six months to get back to sport. It’s a lot of physical therapy getting the motion back initially and then working on getting your strength back and then starting to get back into sport specific functional activities. It’s a long process to get back to sports after and ACL surgery. It depends, you know, we’ve had people get back as early as about four to four and a half months and we’ve had people take about seven months. There are a lot of factors involved if they had any other structures injured at the time of the surgery, what sport they’re trying to get back to, that kind of thing. But on average, it’s about six months getting back to sports. Higher level athletes sometimes especially pro-athletes, a lot of times, it’s longer because you’re trying—your bar is higher as far as what you’re trying to get back to. Sometimes in the NFL, it can be up to a year to get back to elite status competition. ACL surgery is big of a deal as it is. It is much as it is to go through. It has probably.
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