A partial ACL tear is when some of the fibers of the Anterior Cruciate Ligament in the knee are torn. It could be 30% torn or it might be 80% torn; it is just not a complete tear. The degree of damage doesn’t relate to the functionality of the joint. Some people have stability even with a significant tear, and some people with the same amount of damage will complain that their knee keeps giving way underneath them.
If your knee is stable enough, even through activity, then physical therapy can be helpful, but an ACL cannot heal itself. Treatment for an ACL tear is reconstructive surgery using a graft or tendon from another part of your body. The graft is usually tissue from your knee, but it could come from a donor; the tendon most often comes from your hamstring. A procedure called arthroscopy is used. A small incision is made, and a tube with a camera is inserted into the knee. The camera sends an image to a monitor so the doctor can see what is going on inside your knee. Only small incisions are needed for this type of surgery. One incision is made for the arthroscope (camera), one for the surgical instruments, and one for a cannula (a tube used for removing fluid). This less invasive procedure reduces recovery time.
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Deciding not to undergo this reconstructive surgery, or choosing to wait for it, can involve risks. Your knee will be less stable, or unstable, until the ligament is repaired. This can lead to a secondary knee injury and also increases your risk of getting arthritis.
It is often recommended for children to wait for the surgery because they are still growing. A knee brace can be used to support the knee and avoiding athletic activity can reduce the risk of further injury. Both of these things, though, are also potentially detrimental to a child’s development. Having to wear a knee brace can make the child feel weak and embarrassed. Entering puberty is a significant stage in a child’s life, and keeping active is an important part of healthy development. It is pretty hard to keep a child from being active anyways. You can take them out of sports, but you can’t keep them from playing with their friends. Once the knee is weakened, further injury can happen anywhere. Even walking can be difficult with this type of injury. Bending down and going up and down stairs can cause your knee to give out, and these are not things anyone can avoid.
The advanced surgical techniques used now reduce healing time but do not eliminate it. After the surgery you have to walk on crutches for up to a month. Physical therapy is an important part of the rehab but is time consuming and can be painful. Achieving full range of motion as soon as possible is critical because the build-up of scar tissue can hinder this. Recovery time is usually a few months, but full recovery can take up to a year. Exercises that are low impact but flex and extend the knee are ones to focus on. Riding a stationary bike is a typical one. Professional athletes will even use things like an underwater treadmill and an anti-gravity treadmill. An ACL tear is a common reoccurring injury, so doing all you can to rehabilitate your knee properly is worthwhile. Full access of ACL recovery tutorial
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