NW Orthopedic Spokane Knee Pain

Treatment of Torn ACL

ACL Reconstruction with Hamstring

ACL Treatment

When considering treatment, factors to consider include the extent of the injury, the patient’s activity level, and comfort level. A torn ACL should be treated by a medical professional immediately. The first course of action will be to reduce your pain through medication. Typically, after an acute ACL tear, patients will require two to six weeks of physical therapy to allow for swelling to subside and for range of motion to normalize. During this time, patients should avoid cutting, pivoting or twisting. As swelling subsides and range of motion improves, patients often feel much better.

Following an ACL tear, there are always two treatment options: non-operative conservative treatment and surgical reconstruction. Non-surgical treatments can be effective in patients who have only partial tears and no instability; patients with complete tears who are willing to modify their lifestyle to avoid twisting-, cutting- and pivoting-type activities; and patients who do minimal physical work and lead more sedentary lifestyles.

Non-surgical treatment in a young, active patient who participates in direction change sports usually produces unsatisfactory results. In the ACL-deficient knee, it changes the contact stress in the knee, increasing the risk of meniscal damage and, in theory, causing increased cartilage wear and arthritis. For athletes who rely on cutting, pivoting and twisting movements, surgery is recommended, primarily to stabilize the knee and prevent further joint damage.

An ACL reconstruction surgeries require the use of a graft—either an autograft or an allograft. Autograft refers to tissue obtained from the patient’s body—usually the hamstring tendons, patellar tendon or quadriceps tendon. When an allograft is used, it is obtained from a cadaver. Allografts offer the advantage of eliminating the pain of the surgery involved in obtaining the graft, but they have some risks.

Deciding which graft to proceed with can be a difficult decision and is an important topic to discuss with your orthopedic surgeon.

Recovery Process

The surgery is typically performed as an outpatient procedure and requires crutches and a brace for a period of time. If the patient had an isolated ACL reconstruction, he or she can often bear weight as tolerated with the assistance of crutches and a brace. If meniscal or cartilage repair is required, his or her recovery may include a period of non-weight-bearing to protect the repair. The patient will typically begin formal physical therapy within a few days to a week after surgery, and the recovery takes six to nine months before a return to sports. Physical therapy involves a progression of exercises aimed at re-establishing full range of motion and strength to the affected knee.

See a Specialist

To learn more about treatments for a torn anterior or posterior cruciate ligaments, please request an appointment online, or call 888-660-2663.

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Appointment Resources

Once you have scheduled your appointment with one of our knee doctors, please use the link below to obtain our new patient forms and browse through our tips and preparation suggestions for your appointment. 

Preparing for My Appointment & New Patient Forms

“I came into the office for the first time very worried about having to have an ACL reconstruction for the second time. Dr. Kody and the entire staff were amazing! They took the time to discuss my options and reassured me that I would be back to my busy, active life as soon as possible. My surgery could not have gone better and I was starting physical therapy after 3 weeks out. I am very grateful to Dr. Kody and his staff for not only being so supportive and caring, but doing an absolutely fantastic job on my knee!! I would refer all my family and friends to Northwest Orthopaedic Specialists.” — Greta H.

“ACL reconstruction \ MCL Repair - Dr. Kody is the man. 3 months after surgery and I feel great. No issues - Still doing PT but the whole process was great.” — Ryan R.

“I had struggled with a damaged ACL for many years with symptoms going from occasional to not being able to walk, climb stairs, get in and out of a vehicle, or do recreational walking or golfing without debilitating pain. Dr. Wallace performed reconstructive knee surgery in 2011. I am so pleased with the outcome as I am now able to do all of my daily routine and recreational activities without pain or symptoms. Thank you, Dr. Wallace!” — Jan S.