Rebuilding Worn Knees
Damage to the ACL (anterior cruciate ligament), the most common injury, occurs in athletes who play basketball, football, tennis or soccer, or in skiers. An MRI helps reveal the extent of the damage.
Ligament Reconstruction for a Return to Normal
Knee reconstruction– either total or partial– is actually a tissue graft. The orthopedic surgeon takes healthy tendon tissue from the patient’s own hamstring muscle or knee, and uses it to replace a damaged ligament. In some cases, donor tissue may be used.
There are four ligaments that support the knee, allowing for weight-bearing strength and flexibility.
- The posterior cruciate ligament (PCL) and anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) are located inside the knee joint. They control our back-and-forth movement.
- The medial collateral ligament (MLC) is on the side of the knee towards the body;
- the lateral collateral ligament (LCL) is on the outside of the knee. The collateral ligaments control sideways motion. They are the ‘brakes’ that protect us from harmful movements.
Ligaments connect one bone to another. The ACL connects the femur (thigh bone) with the tibia (shin bone). A torn ACL is the most common knee injury.
This ligament was designed to handle forward motion and rotation of the tibia.
ACL injuries are most common in athletes between the ages of 15 and 45– the ages when people are most active.
Other Knee Ligament Injuries
We also see injuries to the PCL, the ligament that controls backward movement of the tibia; the MCL, which supports the inner part of the knee; and the LCL, which stabilizes the outer knee.
ACL injuries are often caused by a specific event. The patient is usually in pain, and has limited function or mobility. He or she may want to return to their sports or favorite activity as soon as possible.
Knee Ligament Reconstruction Recovery
Generally speaking, recovery time for knee constructive surgery falls into phases. The first one to three weeks are focused on decreasing the swelling by elevating and icing the leg, and exercises on a stationary bicycle.
- From two to six weeks post-surgery, the patient is given exercises to improve range of motion and strength.
- From six weeks to about four months, the patient can begin jogging. After six months, the patient may return to sports activities.
Surgical techniques for repairing damaged knees have made great advances over the past few decades, and many elite athletes recover and go on to excel after suffering an injury that, a few decades ago, would have ended their career.
To find out more about knee ligament reconstruction read through the National Institutes of Health (NIH) website or contact our Pembroke Pines Orthopedics clinic to speak with one of our Miami orthopedic surgeons or to schedule an appointment.