The anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) is a band of connective tissue that runs through the middle of your knee, providing stability to the joint.
An ACL tear is a very common knee injury – it can occur when you twist your knee, change direction suddenly while running, or through a side impact. It’s particularly common in sports like football, rugby and skiing.
A complete tear of the ACL may require reconstruction surgery. Using keyhole surgery, your surgeon will replace the torn ligament with a tendon.
At Capital Orthopaedics, our team of surgeons, radiologists and physiotherapists are highly experienced at diagnosing and treating ACL tears. We are dedicated to giving you the most effective treatment to get you back on your feet and back to strength in the quickest time possible.
If you suspect a torn ACL, or you are looking for a referral, contact us for an appointment here.
A complete ACL tear can result in feelings of instability and weakness. If you are an active person, a complete tear can be debilitating, preventing you from doing your sport. If this is the case, an ACL reconstruction is usually recommended.
For more information about ACL tears, click here.
Not all ACL tears require surgery.
Your knee is supported by three other ligaments (the PCL, MCL and LCL), as well as tendons and muscles. With targeted physiotherapy programmes, some people are able to regain strength and stability for everyday activities.
Prior to surgery, it’s important to reduce swelling in your knee, and get a range of movement back before reconstructive surgery can take place.
Strengthening: building the muscles around your knee joint in the weeks before surgery helps with stability after the operation.
Flexibility: muscles naturally contract after an injury, so doing the right kind of stretching exercises can counteract that tightness – improving range of motion before and after the operation.
Your surgeon will make a series of small incisions in your knee, and carry out the operation using a tiny camera and small instruments.
If the ACL is detached from the bone (complete tear), part of a tendon from elsewhere in your body (usually the hamstring tendon) or from a donor is used to replace the ligament. It is attached to the bone using surgical screws and buttons.
You can weight bear immediately after an ACL reconstruction. The sooner you start to walk around, the better it is for the recovery, as it improves blood flow and helps counteract muscle wasting.
You may need to wear a brace on your knee for up to six weeks to prevent twisting movements.
As soon as the swelling goes down after the operation (one to two days), you will start trying to bend and straighten your leg. Our physiotherapists will give you a programme of exercises to start strengthening the muscles around your knee.
With dedication to rehabilitation, you should be able to return to all sporting activities in about six months.
Capital Orthopaedics is led by Simon Moyes – internationally renowned orthopaedic surgeon and leader in the field of arthroscopic (keyhole) surgery. Our team of musculoskeletal specialists works from three central London locations, benefitting from state-of-the-art diagnostics, pioneering surgical techniques and the very latest in injection therapies.
Cartilage Damage: the slippery cartilage that coats the bones in your knee joint can get torn as a result of an impact, a wrenching movement, repetitive actions or wear and tear. It can cause problems with mobility, pain, swelling and can lead to arthritis if left untreated. We treat cartilage damage with physiotherapy, injection therapy and arthroscopic surgery.
ACL Tears: a tear of the anterior cruciate ligament can be caused by a sharp twisting motion, an impact or by a sudden force through a bent knee. It leads to symptoms of pain, swelling and instability. ACL tears can be treated with physiotherapy or keyhole surgery.
Torn Meniscus: the semi-circular rubbery pads in your knee joint provide cushioning. They can get torn as a result of twisting injuries, or an impact on the knee joint. Minor tears can be managed with physical therapy, while more severe tears may be repaired or removed using minimally invasive keyhole surgery.
Knee Fractures: a fracture to any of the bones of the knee can occur as a result of a major impact, or severe wrenching action. Other injuries to soft tissues often occur at the same time, so a careful diagnosis is needed. Some fractures require stabilisation while they heal (usually six weeks), but displaced or shattered bone will require surgery.
Knee Arthritis: the slippery cartilage that coats the bones in your knee joint can wear away as a result of a traumatic injury or wear and tear over time. Exposed bone surfaces in the joint lead to pain, stiffness and swelling. Arthritis can be treated effectively with physiotherapy and injection therapy in the early stages, while more severe cases can be resolved with minimally invasive surgery or replacing damaged bone with prosthetic parts (knee replacement).
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