Treatment options for ACL injuries

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An ACL injury is one of the most common knee injuries in athletes who participate in high intensity sports like football, soccer, and basketball. According to the American Orthopedic Society for Sports Medicine, approximately 150,000 ACL injuries occur in the U.S. every year. Treatment for an ACL injury depends on the severity and the type of demand a patient places on the injured knee after recovery.

Treatment Options

Early Treatment/Home Care—Early treatment includes:

-Rest for several days following injury

-Ice the area for about 20 minutes every few hours

-Apply a compression bandage to help control swelling

-Elevate the injured knee above the heart

Medical Treatment—There are both nonsurgical and surgical treatment options for ACL injuries, which depend on the severity of the injury and the physical demands of the patient. Nonsurgical and surgical treatment options include:

-Physical therapy and rehabilitation

-Wearing a knee brace during physical activity

-Muscle-strengthening and range-of-motion exercises

-ACL reconstructive surgery

The best surgical option for an ACL injury is reconstruction of the ligament with either a donor tendon from the patient’s own surrounding structures or from a cadaver tendon, also called an allograft.

An allograft tendon reconstruction has proven to be a successful treatment option for many athletes. However, using a patient’s own tendons from the hamstring or the patella to reconstruct the ACL is the recommended option. The type of reconstructive surgery used depends on the individual patient’s situation.