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The ACL is a band of stringy tissue that settles your knee. You can tear or sprain your ACL – it's a champion among the most surely understood knee wounds. Most by far of them (around seven out of ten ACL wounds) happen when playing sports. Harm normally happens when you back off quickly while turning or dodging meanwhile. A couple of diversions that are particularly disposed to causing ACL harm are b-ball, netball, rugby, football and skiing.
If you’ve torn your ACL, your doctor is likely to suggest a reconstruction if your knee is unstable (gives way) and you:
Your surgeon may delay the operation to allow any swelling to go down as much as possible and any stiffness in your knee to be resolved. It’s best if you have a pain-free, full range of movement in your knee by the time you have surgery. Otherwise, the result may not be as good as it could be. Your operation is likely to be at least three weeks after your injury, but this varies from person to person. Your surgeon may ask you to have physiotherapy during this time. As well as making sure you can move your knee as fully as possible, exercises will help:
Your surgeon will explain how to prepare for your operation. For example, if you smoke, you’ll be asked to stop. Smoking increases your risk of getting a chest and wound infection, which can slow your recovery. You may also be asked to stop taking the contraceptive pill, as it can increase your risk of blood clots. Cuts and scratches below the knee can increase your risk of getting an infection after surgery. So your surgery may be delayed until they’ve healed. This is why your surgeon may ask you to stop shaving your legs up to six weeks before your operation.
You may have your operation under a general anaesthetic or an epidural (spinal anaesthetic). If you're having a general anaesthetic, you’ll usually be asked to follow fasting instructions. This involves not eating or drinking for a set amount of time before your surgery. It’s important to follow your surgeon’s advice. You’ll usually be asked to stop eating six hours before your operation, but can drink water up to two hours before.
Your surgeon and anaesthetist will talk to you about your procedure beforehand. They’ll answer any questions you have and tell you what to expect. Do ask any questions you’d like answered so you understand what will happen. It may help to have a list of questions ready to ask. Once you’re happy that all your questions have been answered, you sign a consent form, giving your permission for the procedure to go ahead.
It usually takes about six months to make a full recovery from ACL reconstruction. But to start with, it’s important not to do too much. Your leg should be up when you’re not moving around or doing your exercises. Avoid too much standing or walking. If your knee starts to swell, you’ve overdone it. It takes about two weeks after ACL surgery to be able to walk without crutches, fully straighten your leg and bend it to 90 degrees. If you have a desk-based job, you may be able to go back to work four to six weeks after your operation. This may be sooner if you work part-time. If you have an active job it will take longer – typically between four to six months – but this will depend on exactly how active your job is. It’s important to know how to get back to work after sick leave. If you have an active job, you’ll need to do this gradually. Speak to your surgeon for advice. Most people are able to go back to playing sport around six months after their operation. This varies from person to person though and will depend on the sport you play and how well you’re recovering. It’s important to follow your surgeon’s advice. During your recovery, you can take over-the-counter painkillers such as paracetamol or anti-inflammatory medicines, such as ibuprofen. Make sure you read the patient information that comes with your medicine and if you have any questions, speak to your pharmacist for advice. You can also apply ice packs (or frozen peas wrapped in a towel) to your knee to help reduce pain and swelling. Don't apply ice directly to your skin though, as it can damage it. You won’t be able to drive until your surgeon gives you the go-ahead. Some surgeons will let you drive if your left leg was the one operated on and you have a car with automatic gears. If you're in any doubt about driving, contact your motor insurer for their recommendations, and always follow your surgeon's advice. You shouldn’t fly on a long-haul flight for at least six weeks after your surgery. Your surgeon may recommend waiting longer, so it’s important to always follow their advice.
Complications are problems that occur during or after your operation. The possible complications of any operation include excessive bleeding, developing a blood clot, usually in a vein in your leg (deep vein thrombosis), or having an unexpected reaction to the anaesthetic.
The main complications of ACL reconstruction are listed below: