Anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) reconstruction
The anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) is an extremely important ligament in our knee, used to control front to back movements as well as twisting and turning. If damaged, our ACL rarely heals on its own. This can cause our knee to give way, which in turn can lead to further damage to other parts of the knee. ACL injuries are painful, debilitating and can massively impact our quality of life. As a specialist knee doctor, helping people to get better from these injuries is a key part of my job.
ACL injuries often occur during sport, for example through jarring the knee, landing awkwardly or through a collision. I have treated a lot of professional and amateur athletes for knee injuries and have helped them to recover in a way that has enabled them to return to the top levels of performance. Whether you consider yourself an athlete or are somebody who has no interest in sports whatsoever, if you have damaged your ACL it is likely that you will need surgery to restore proper function to your knee. The best thing is to come in for a consultation so that we can get you properly checked out.
A consultation is where we meet to see what is going on with your knee and to discuss whether surgery is the right course of action. This is also the ideal time for you to ask any questions you may have. It is important you have all the information you need to make an informed choice about treatment. The surgical procedure looks a little different in each individual case, so I'll make sure you have a clear understanding of what the particularities of ACL reconstruction would mean for you. After successful ACL reconstruction your knee will no longer give way, meaning you will be able to return to sport and everyday activities.
For the surgery you will need to be placed under a general anaesthetic. During the operation, I will make some small incisions either side of your knee. These tiny cuts allow me to use specialist tools with a very high level of precision to work inside your knee. In most cases I would use part of the patellar tendon (which runs from your kneecap to your shinbone) to repair the ACL.
You will be awake soon after the operation and will be allowed to return home as soon as you are weight-bearing with the help of crutches. In most cases this is on the same day as the surgery. However, you may need to take time off work (up to six weeks) and you won't be able to drive. We will meet up again two weeks after the operation so that I can check on your progress and to make sure that everything is healing well.
You may need to wear a knee brace after surgery to help stabilise the knee. We will also give you a cold compress so that you can regularly cool your knee to aid recovery. When things have settled down after the surgery you will need to do some intensive physiotherapy to strengthen your knee and to ensure you gain the maximum benefit from the surgery. This physiotherapy may need to be done for up to 6 months and is a really important part of rebuilding strength and functionality.
Sometimes people will feel some numbness around the knee for a while after surgery. This is perfectly normal and will subside over time. The risk of the ligament re-rupturing after surgery is 1% per year, meaning that 10 years from surgery there is a 90% chance that the graft will still be functioning well.
I am passionate about sport and love to be active. Having experienced injuries to my own knees in the past, I know how painful and frustrating it can be.
There has been an increase in sporting injuries in recent years, but alongside this we have seen rapid technological advances in the management of these injuries. One area that has seen significant development is in the management of knee ligament injuries, meaning that with the right treatment and rehabilitation you can get back to doing the things that you love quicker than ever before.
My team and I have some of the best clinical results in the UK and are recognised nationally for our excellence and innovative techniques. As a doctor who specialises exclusively in problems of the knee, I know just how critical knees are in everyday life. If you have damaged your ACL and are thinking about having a reconstruction, I would be delighted to meet with you for a consultation. It's easy to get in touch, just call my private secretary Mandy on 01761 422 256.