If you suffer an anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) tear in your knee, ACL surgery is often the most effective way to relieve your pain and restore your mobility and function. At the office of orthopedic surgeon Cody Covington, MD, in San Antonio, Texas, Dr. Covington uses minimally invasive procedures when possible to perform ACL surgery. For patient-focused care for your ACL injury, book your consultation online or by phone now.
The anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) is in the middle of your knee, one of the four stabilizing ligaments in the joint. The ACL regulates rotation and prevents your tibia (shin bone) from moving too far forward.
You can tear the ACL in many ways, including making a sudden pivot or stop, changing pace while running, landing badly after a jump, and taking a direct blow to your knee.
An ACL tear usually occurs with a loud cracking or popping noise. It’s common to experience severe pain, swelling, and knee instability with an ACL tear, so it requires immediate treatment, for example, rest and pain relievers.
Your ACL doesn't have its own blood supply, which means it can't heal on its own. Not everyone needs ACL surgery, though.
People who live a sedentary or only moderately active lifestyle may function well after physical therapy, bracing, and rest. Inactive older people, for example, rarely need ACL surgery.
But, regardless of age, if you're an athlete or are otherwise active and you want to resume your sport or activity, you probably need ACL surgery to do so safely. An exception to this general rule is athletes whose sports don't stress the knees, for example, swimmers.
Dr. Covington performs several types of ACL surgery, with the exact procedure customized for your anatomy and unique needs.
Typically, ACL surgery involves a tendon graft, which means that he removes your torn ligament and creates a new ACL using a piece of tendon tissue. The donor tendon can come from your own body (your patella or hamstring) or from a tissue bank.
Dr. Covington secures your graft using internal hardware. Over time, new ligament tissue grows atop the tendon graft.
In most cases, Dr. Covington performs arthroscopic ACL surgery. With knee arthroscopy, a minimally invasive procedure, he can perform your procedure using dime-sized incisions above your knee.
Dr. Covington uses a thin arthroscope to view the inside of your knee on a monitor as he places special surgical tools through additional small incisions. In this way, he can repair your ACL as well as other damaged tissue, for example, a torn meniscus.
Knee arthroscopy has excellent success rates, with reduced risk of infection, less pain, and faster recovery than open surgery with one long incision.
Usually, an ACL reconstruction is a same-day procedure. After your surgery, you start physical therapy to stabilize your knee, minimize swelling, and restore a full range of motion.
Dr. Covington generally recommends physical therapy both before (prehab) and after (rehab) ACL surgery. Going into surgery with strong muscle support around your knees can result in a smoother and easier recovery.
Schedule your consultation with Cody Covington, MD, by calling the office or booking online now.