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What's It Like: To have your ACL repaired

Tearing the anterior cruciate ligament, or ACL, is one of the most common knee ligament injuries, especially in sports and fitness activities that involve running, pivoting, turning and jumping.
by Jaclyn Cosgrove Published: May 20, 2012
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Why get your ACL repaired?

The anterior cruciate ligament is one of the major ligaments in the knee. Located in the middle of the knee, the ACL prevents the shin bone from sliding out in front of the thigh bone.

Tearing your ACL is one of the most common knee ligament injuries, especially in sports and fitness activities that involve running, pivoting, turning and jumping.

Often a person tears his or her ACL not because of contact in a sport, but from rapidly slowing down or twisting. Football players and athletes in other contact sports often suffer from this injury.

Not everyone who tears the ligament has to have surgery. Some things to consider if you tear your ACL include whether you have persistent knee pain, your age and activity level, whether you're able to continue normal activities, whether more than one ligament is torn and whether you plan to continue activities that require a lot of jumping or pivoting.

What happens when you get your ACL repaired?

In the past, when someone tore his or her ACL, the surgeon would try to repair the ligament. Now, a new one is built. In the past, medical staff used synthetic materials to do this. Now, they use human tissue — either from a cadaver, or tissue from your own body, such as a portion of your patellar tendon or the hamstring tendons.

If the procedure is done by knee arthroscopy, the surgeon will make a small cut into your knee and insert a camera to review your ligaments and other tissue.

Next, the surgeon will make small cuts around your knee and insert medical instruments. The surgeon will repair any damage and remove the damaged ligament.

The surgeon will then attach the new ACL to your thighbone and shinbone, using screws or other medical devices.

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by Jaclyn Cosgrove
Medical and Health Reporter
Jaclyn Cosgrove writes about health, public policy and medicine in Oklahoma, among other topics. She is an Oklahoma State University graduate. Jaclyn grew up in the southeast region of the state and enjoys writing about rural Oklahoma. She is...
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