The ACL, sometimes referred to as the anterior cruciate ligament, is tissue found in the knee that connects the shinbone with the thigh bone. When sudden twisting motions occur, the ACL can tear, and you can find yourself in need of an ACL doctor nearby. At Mattalino Orthopaedic in Phoenix, AZ, we understand how life-changing an ACL tear can be. You can have difficulties walking, pain, and other symptoms. Read on to learn more about what type of doctor can help.
What Kind of Doctor Does an ACL Repair?
If you have severely damaged your ACL, you may need help from an orthopedic surgeon. Sometimes, ACL injuries can be healed with physical therapy, stretching, and plenty of rest. However, if your ACL is torn, it will not reattach itself. Surgery may be required to restore full function in your knee.
What Kind of Surgery Will I Need?
Typically, an arthroscopic ACL reconstruction is recommended when an ACL is torn and needs to be reattached. This is because arthroscopic procedures are much less invasive than open knee surgery, so recovery is a lot quicker. Furthermore, using an arthroscope allows us to clearly see the knee so we can make precise corrections, even if other ligaments in the knee are also torn.
Am I a Good Candidate for Arthroscopic ACL Reconstruction?
To determine whether arthroscopic ACL reconstruction is right for you, an initial evaluation is required. This procedure is usually highly recommended if you have torn your ACL and other ligaments in your knee have also sustained damage. However, if your ACL is not torn, this procedure may not be right for you. If your ACL is still attached to both your thigh bone and shinbone, you may be a better fit for physical therapy.
Do I Need to See a Phoenix, AZ ACL Doctor?
It is time to schedule an appointment with an ACL doctor if you are having knee pain and swelling that does not go away after several days of doing your best to keep off of your knee. To reiterate, depending on the type of ACL injury you have, physical therapy may not be enough.
Some of the earliest symptoms of a serious ACL injury include hearing a popping sound when the sudden knee twisting occurred and feeling like your knee is unstable. For example, if you feel like your knee buckles underneath your weight when you try to walk on it, you may have damaged your ACL seriously. Other early warning signs of a serious ACL injury include:
- Swelling within six hours of the incident
- Pain or discomfort
- Reduced range of motion
What Will Happen if I Don’t Seek Treatment for a Torn ACL?
If you suspect your ACL is torn, it is very important that you see an orthopedic specialist because serious consequences can occur if the injury is left untreated. For example, it can develop into chronic ACL deficiency. If you suffer from chronic ACL deficiency, the stability of your knee will continue to decline. It will give out more frequently, and the cartilage in your knee will be put under unnecessary extraneous wear and tear.
The more wear and tear your knee cartilage sustains, the more likely you are to need a knee replacement relatively early in life. Furthermore, your risk of developing osteoarthritis at a relatively early age is increased significantly due to the menisci in the knee being trapped and damaged due to abnormal sliding inside the knee.
Do I Need to Get Surgery if I Only Have a Partially Torn ACL?
If your ACL is only partially torn, whether you need surgery depends primarily on how well you care for your knee after your injury. It is not uncommon for rehabilitation to be recommended for at least three months following the injury. If you use crutches, attend physical therapy, and ice and elevate your knee diligently, there is a chance that your knee will heal itself. The severity of the partially torn ACL also significantly affects whether you will need surgery.
How Can I Try to Rehabilitate My Knee at Home?
If you injure your knee, regardless of whether it is hurt during a sporting event or fall, it is important that you do not play sports or engage in any other high-impact physical activity, like running. Rather, you should keep your weight off of your knee as much as possible and ice it regularly. Furthermore, if you have swelling, take a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug, like ibuprofen, to keep inflammation’s painful effects at bay.
Another thing you should do until you can get an MRI and diagnosis from an ACL doctor in Phoenix, AZ is take a bit of time off from work to lounge at home, resting with your leg above your heart. If you can’t take time off from work to rest your knee at home, strongly consider getting a brace to provide your knee with much-needed stability or using crutches to keep weight off of your knee whenever you have to walk.
What Are Some Other Knee Injuries That Require a Visit to an Orthopedic Specialist?
It is also important to see an orthopedic specialist if you suspect you are suffering from a meniscal tear. The meniscus is rubbery, durable cartilage that is shaped like a C. It sits between your shinbone and thigh bone and plays a crucial role as a shock absorber. If your knee twists suddenly while it is bearing weight, your meniscus can tear.
Usually, this occurs during a sports competition, but it can also occur while you are standing up from a chair and twist sharply. Furthermore, it can occur if you are walking and stumble in a hole in the ground. Whether you need surgery after a meniscal tear depends on several factors, not the least of which are your activity level, age, and symptom severity. We will also consider the exact location of the injury.
If your meniscal tear is in the outer third of the meniscus, there is plenty of blood flow, and the tear may be able to heal on its own with rest, ice, compression, and elevation. However, the inner two-thirds of the meniscus gets very little blood flow. Therefore, there are not very many nutrients and growth factors flowing through the area. You may need a partial meniscectomy if a tear occurs in the inner two-thirds of the meniscus.
During a partial meniscectomy, the damaged portion of the meniscus is trimmed away. Most of the time, weight-bearing is possible immediately following the procedure. Furthermore, the range of motion is usually completely restored very shortly after surgery.
Total meniscectomy is similar to partial meniscectomy in that the damaged portion of the meniscus is removed. The primary difference is that during a total meniscectomy, the entire meniscus is removed. Another difference between the two procedures is recovery time.
Due to the extended scope of total meniscectomy, recovery usually takes between four and six weeks. On the other hand, it may only take you roughly three weeks to recover from a partial meniscectomy.
In some cases, the meniscus can’t repair itself due to the location of the injury, but no cartilage needs to be removed. In such cases, meniscal repair is required. This open knee surgery may require three to six months of recovery, but full knee function can be restored.
Another reason to see an orthopedist if you tear your meniscus is they can offer non-surgical treatments that are more effective than rest, ice, compression, and elevation. For example, PRP (platelet-rich plasma) injections can facilitate rapid healing. Platelet-rich plasma therapy involves drawing blood and processing it in a centrifuge.
The centrifuge separates the components of the blood by mass, and the end result is plasma with very high concentrations of platelets. The platelet-rich plasma is then injected into the knee, and the meniscus has the growth factors and other components it needs to heal itself.
Schedule an Appointment With a Phoenix, AZ ACL Doctor Today
If your knee is suddenly twisted during a fall or quick maneuver during a sports match, you need to talk to an ACL doctor. If an ACL tear is left untreated by an orthopedic specialist, it will not heal or reattach itself. Your mobility can be affected significantly. Contact us today at Mattalino Orthopaedic in Phoenix, AZ to schedule your initial consultation to find out how best to proceed with your anterior cruciate ligament injury.