Who Is At Risk For An ACL Tear? Surgery & Recovery Time

A Sudden Movement Can Cause A Painful ACL Tear

An estimated 80,000 anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) tears occur annually in the United States. An ACL tear is considered one of the most common knee injuries. The ACL is a band of tissues that holds the bones together in the knee. An ACL tear usually occurs when a person makes a sudden, sharp, or quick stop of the knee. An ACL tear can range from mild to moderate, and some individuals are more at risk for these injuries and require surgery.

Women have a higher risk of an ACL tear

Studies have shown that women have an increased risk of ACL injuries. In some cases, female athletes are over 3 times more likely to sustain an ACL tear than male athletes. The evidence suggests a range of factors that leave women susceptible to ACL injuries, including biomechanical factors and hormones.

A common injury in athletes

Athletes involved in sports that require frequent changing direction, jumping, and sudden stopping have been found more likely to have an ACL tear. Some of these sports include soccer, football, downhill skiing, tennis, and volleyball. The landing patterns and movement of the knee joints in these sports put athletes at a higher risk for an ACL tear and other knee injuries.

Your aging body is vulnerable to injuries

Joints become weaker with age leaving aging joints vulnerable to orthopedic injuries. As a result, age is a significant factor in most ACL injuries. Joint weakness increases the likelihood of an ACL tear in people older than 40.

Did you have a prior knee injury?

Patients with multiple knee injuries or past ACL injuries are at significant risk of developing an ACL tear. Past injuries can leave the knee damaged, weak, and susceptible to future orthopedic injuries. People who have had an ACL tear in one leg are also more likely to have a future ACL tear in the opposite leg.

What is ACL surgery?

During ACL surgery, a doctor performs a procedure to replace the torn ACL ligament in the knee. The ACL is removed and replaced with a tendon. The tendon that is put into the knee is a graft. ACL surgery aims to get the knee stable again and provide the patient with the full range of motion of the knee.

Recovery from ACL surgery

After leaving the hospital, a patient will learn how to dress the wound and probably require crutches to keep pressure off the knee. Pain medication is also often recommended. As the ACL heals, surgery patients are sent to progressive physical therapy to help restore the range of motion and mobility of the knee. After physical therapy, most patients return to usual activities within 9 months. Successful ACL reconstruction and rehabilitation usually can restore long-term function, strength, and stability of the knee. For more information about ACL reconstruction, speak with a healthcare provider.


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