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ACL Reconstruction Specialist in Glendale, CA

What is an ACL Reconstruction?

Anterior cruciate ligament reconstruction involves making a new ACL from your own tissue or a donor graft.  Typical graft options include patellar tendon, quadriceps tendon or hamstring tendon.  Typically, younger patients, or those with high intensity activities, will benefit most from using your own tissue (autograft).  Patients who are older, or with less demand on the knee, may choose to use donor tissue (allograft).  Your surgeon will discuss which option is best for you. 

How is an ACL Reconstruction Performed?

ACL reconstruction is done in the operating room.  It requires general anesthesia.  A nerve block is done to numb the knee to reduce pain during and after surgery.  This is an outpatient procedure, meaning you go home the same day.  Surgery typically takes about 2 hours.

The surgery is performed using a camera in the joint, or arthroscopy.  The camera allows us to see inside the knee and place the new ACL in the exact anatomic location where your original ACL was. The ACL is secured in place with either small metal buttons or absorbable screws.

What is the Recovery Time After an ACL Reconstruction?

After surgery, you will go home with a brace and crutches.  You will be allowed to put weight on the knee right away unless a meniscus repair was also performed.  Physical therapy begins within a week of the surgery.  Range of motion in the brace is allowed as tolerated with an emphasis placed on extension.  After your quadriceps muscles regain strength, you can discontinue the brace and crutches, typically after about 1-2 weeks. 

The typical rehabilitation time frame is:

  • After surgery-2 weeks- quadriceps sets, leg raises, knee bends
  • 2-6 weeks- return to normal walking, stationary bike, light strengthening
  • 6-12 weeks- increase strength and endurance of knee, hip and core muscles
  • 3 mo- begin jogging program
  • 4-5 mo- begin to pivot, twist, cut and jump
  • 6 mo- return to sport specific training
  • 9 mo- full return to sport

Each patient has their own goals and path to recovery.  Full return to sport is decided by your surgeon based on your knee performance during physical therapy.  Functional tests are administered by the physical therapist beginning around 6 months after surgery.  Once you have passed these tests, and are at least 9 months out from surgery, you can be cleared for full return to sports. 

Contact Glendale Orthopedics today to get help for your knee pain.

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