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Will My Knee Ever Be the Same After an ACL Tear?

Will My Knee Ever Be the Same After an ACL Tear?

An anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) injury is a fairly common knee injury, especially among athletes. In fact, in the United States alone, about 200,000 ACL injuries happen every year. 

Your ACL plays a pivotal role in the way your knee functions, and plenty of people worry that when they injure this ligament, their activity level will be significantly affected. 

At Pacific Sports and Spine, our team works closely with each patient to help them relieve knee pain and restore normal joint function after an ACL injury. If you’re worried about how your injury will affect your activities, here’s what you should know.

How ACL tears happen

The ACL is one of the main knee ligaments, providing support for the knee while also preventing the knee from bending or flexing beyond its normal limits. Most injuries happen when the knee is forced to change direction quickly, like when pivoting while running. Injuries can also happen if you land hard after a jump.

ACL injuries typically involve knee pain, along with swelling, knee tenderness, and knee weakness or instability. You might also hear a pop or snapping noise when the tendon tears.

There are three levels of ACL injuries based on how the ligament is damaged:

While we may treat mild injuries with bracing, activity modification, physical therapy, and other noninvasive treatments, complete tears almost always require surgery to repair — especially if you want to retain your active lifestyle.

Recovering from an ACL tear

When it comes to questions about the speed and extent of recovery following any type of surgery, one of the most frustrating answers is: It depends. While that’s not exactly a satisfying answer, it’s nonetheless true.

Knee function after ACL repair depends on a lot of factors, which can vary — sometimes a lot — from one person to another.

After surgery, you can expect to begin physical therapy fairly quickly. Physical therapy helps your knee regain flexibility and strength while also promoting healing of the joint tissues. Each therapy program is tailored to your needs, including your age, your activity level, and other factors.

Depending on the extent of the tear and any other joint damage you might have suffered, recovery can take from a few months to a year. The good news is that ACL surgery and recovery treatments have evolved significantly in recent years. Today, even pro athletes return to their sport after surgery.

To improve your odds of getting back to your game, take your recovery program seriously, attending every physical therapy session, performing at-home exercises as directed, and closely following your doctor’s recommendations. That might include wearing a brace or using a cane for a period of time as the joint stabilizes.

Custom care for your ACL injury

Individualized treatment is the key to achieving the best results following an ACL tear, and at Pacific Sports and Spine, you can count on custom care using state-of-the-art techniques for optimal outcomes.

To learn more about ACL repair and treatment at our practices in Eugene and Roseburg, Oregon, book an appointment today.

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