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Torn ACL Surgery Doesn’t Have to End Your Athletic Career

It’s a diagnosis that no competitive athlete wants to hear – “you have a torn ACL; you’ll need reconstructive surgery.”

Horrible thoughts flowed through your mind, mostly along the lines of your athletic career being over, or that you’ll never get back to your former level of performance.

Years ago a significant knee injury like a torn ACL might have ended your career.

But today the state of medical procedures and sports therapy means that you have a better chance than ever to get back to your prior athletic levels.

One thing improving the likelihood of a complete recovery is that they are our different types of ACL surgeries available, so that different athletes can weigh the pros and cons of each and decide what’s best for them.

The most common variation in ACL surgery is the type of graft that is used to replace the damaged ACL, and there are three common types of grafts that are used for ACL replacement.

The first technique is to remove approximately 1/3 of the patellar tendon (another tendon that comprises the knee structure) and use that as an ACL replacement.

One advantage of this type of surgery is that the patellar tendon is quite similar to the ACL, so there is less adjustment that the body needs to do.

However, when the section of patellar tendon is removed, a portion of the bone attachment must be removed along with it, which risks causing pain further down the road around the patellar tendon region.

Another common technique is to use tissue from a cadaver donor.

This technique has some adherents because there is no need to remove and repurpose any part of the patient’s other tissues, and because the recovery period is a bit shorter.

However, the donor tissue is generally not as strong as “living” tissue, so the procedure has fallen out of favor amongst athletes in demanding sports.

There are also infection risks that cannot be completely eliminated.

Finally, in ACL surgery may substitute hamstring tendons taken from your own leg.

A pair of tendons are removed and combined to create a structure that resembles your ACL.

Many who have undergone this type of ACL surgery report less pain than patients who have experienced other techniques.

Torn ACL Surgery – You Must Commit To Rehab

However, the healing process of a hamstring tendon graft generally takes longer than other techniques.

Regardless of the type of torn ACL surgery an athlete undergoes, their adherence to a proper rehabilitation program and schedule is very important.

A proper rehabilitation program, undertaken with expert guidance and assistance, will start slowly.

As your new knee becomes stronger, you’ll be asked to handle increasingly strenuous loads and motions. It will not be easy.

There will be times where you’re knee feels perfectly fine, but you’ll be instructed to stick to inappropriate rehabilitation schedule and not try to do too much too quickly.

There will be other times (often in the beginning of the program) where even the simplest exercises and drills, such as working to get full extension on your leg, will be painful.

When you work with a qualified physical therapist, your rehabilitation will help you get back into competition after ACL surgery as quickly as possible.

{ 3 comments… add one }
  • Carlos fernandez

    I have a torn ACL and i would like to know what type of surgery is better for me because i play soccer and also i would like to join the military service after i fully recover from this surgery.

    Thank in advance for any information.

    • Jim Wnek

      Hey Carlos
      Thanks for visiting

      This is a question for your doctor. He or she should discuss what is best for you.
      I have rehabbed and trained high level athletes to low level adults all who have had each method.

      patella tendon

      Each has had very good results.
      Really it’s personal preference.
      But if you asked me to rank them in order if I were to have mine repaired.

      1. Patella
      2. Hamstring
      3. Cadaver

      With today’s technology which ever procedure you go with I am confident you will do fine.

      Keep me posted

  • pradeep

    I had a torn ACL 3 yrs ago, I opted for a surgery using pattela tendon graft unfortunately I had an infection and the knee surgery was declared failure,I have stpped playing football all together, do u think there are still chances of a surgery to get me back on track.

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