Torn ACL, Surgery Options

Last May, the Charleston Post and Courier called the ACL the “scariest acronym in sports.” I can say from experience that they aren’t exaggerating. A torn ACL usually means surgery along with a long and painful recovery period. For most athletes, it also signifies the untimely end to a season.

The ACL or the anterior cruciate ligament is the ligament that runs from the femur in your upper leg, crisscrosses over your knee, and connects to the bones in your lower leg. When this is torn, it takes an extremely long time to heal because it doesn’t have its own blood supply. Surgery to repair the torn ligament is usually necessary.

If you need ACL reconstructive surgery, there are three surgical options. The first option is to use a piece of your patella tendon from the front of your knee to repair your ACL. This is the surgery I had. While the benefit of this surgery is that the pain is all localized in the spot below your knee where the tendon is removed and then repinned in the upper and lower leg, the downside is that this spot is extremely painful and it is close to impossible to kneel because of the pain. (I have overcome this issue… and you can too.)

The next type of knee surgery uses a piece of the hamstring in your upper leg to replace the torn ligament. While, with this option, you won’t have the same intense pain while kneeling, although I have heard of clients who had pain in their hamstring when walking or moving around.

The last option is to take the ACL ligament from a cadaver. That’s right, a person who has died and donated his organs. While this surgery may be your best option for least pain, it is also the most expensive and there is a risk that your body may reject the cadaver ligament.

Keeping all the pros and cons of each surgical option in mind, it is best to educate yourself on which ACL surgery is best for you.

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