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ACL Reconstruction: Seven Tips to Reduce the Risk of Re-Injury

Modern ACL (anterior cruciate ligament) reconstruction techniques have led to a steep decline in the rate of re-rupture of the reconstructed ACL. However, several factors can increase the risk of re-injury. For that reason, it’s important to do everything you can to lessen the risk of incurring damage in the same area. Here are seven things that can be done to reduce the likelihood of it “re-happening” to you:

  1. Before surgery, discuss with your doctor the graft tissue that will be used to replace the damaged ligament. During ACL re-construction, the torn ligament is removed before the graft is inserted and attached to bones in the knee. Common Grafts include those taken from elsewhere in your body, such as the patellar tendon and hamstring, or grafts taken from a cadaveric donor. However, what’s right for one person may not be the best choice for another. Age, activity level and other patient characteristics will factor into the decision.
  2. Confirm that the surgeon is using the most up-to-date ACL reconstruction techniques to ensure the graft is being placed in a position that recreates the anatomy of the native ACL. Poor tunnel positioning at the time of surgery is the leading cause of re-rupture following an ACL reconstruction.
  3. Patients who returned to sports had a 4 times greater risk for re-injury than those who did not. However, re-injury was reduced significantly for each month a patient delayed returning. While the goal of surgery is to enable you to return to your previous level of activity, complete graft healing can take from 8 to 12 months. So give it time to fully heal before returning to your sport or previous exercise regimen.
  4. Working on the quadriceps muscles so that there is equal quad strength in both legs has been shown to significantly reduce knee re-injury. Strengthening leg muscles overall to support and protect the knees is important for reducing the chance of injury to begin with. Athletes with stronger quadriceps, hamstrings and thighs suffer fewer injuries overall.
  5. Enter physical therapy and strictly comply with the therapists instructions. Through physical therapy, range of motion, strength and balance are restored. Regaining full range of motion will assure you’re able to return close to the same skill level you had prior to the injury.
  6. Improve balance. There are several exercises that can be done to improve balance. However, Yoga is an excellent way to improve balance and regain range of motion.
  7. Neurological messages control movement. Movements of the lower extremity, including the knee, are controlled through mind and memory. After any injury, the mind needs time to reconnect with the injured area until movement is innate and function is restored. This takes time.

The doctors and staff at Perimeter Orthopaedics wish you a healthy, active spring sports season. If you or someone you know suffers an injury, contact us at 404-255-5595. We do all we can to see new patients the same day.

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