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Anterior cruciate ligament injury
If you tear the anterior cruciate ligament in your knee, you may need to have re-constructive surgery. The anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) is a tough band of tissue joining the thigh bone to the shin bone at the knee joint. It controls front to back and, most importantly, pivoting or twisting movement.
Knee injuries can occur during sports such as skiing, tennis, squash, netball, football and rugby. ACL injuries are the most common type of knee injury, accounting for around 40% of all sports injuries. You can tear your ACL when twisting, pivoting or with a direct blow. Regular giving way can lead to secondary damage to the menisci (shock absorbers) and articular cartilage (joint surface) as well as making twisting and turning difficult.
A ligament graft is required using material taken from the front of the knee or from the hamstring tendons behind the knee, both of which are able to re-grow to some extent.
Hamstrings or Bone-Patella-Bone grafts are used depending on which is the most suitable for the individual patient. Allographs from other donors can be used.
Common causes of an ACL injury include:
- landing incorrectly from a jump
- stopping quite suddenly
- changing direction
- collision, such as during a rugby tackle
If the ACL is torn, your knee will become very unstable and have a reduced full range of movement. This can make it difficult to perform certain movements, such as turning on the spot. Some sports may be impossible to play with such an injury.
How is it treated?
The ACL cannot easily be repaired so it is best treated by reconstruction where a piece of the patients own tissue (HAMS or BTB) is taken and put in it’s place. Successful ACL reconstruction surgery is a highly successful operation and post people can return to their previous level of sport from 6 months onwards after surgery.