A tear in the anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) is a very common knee injury, especially among athletes. Choosing a skilled orthopedic surgeon and sports medicine expert for ACL reconstruction in Reading, PA, can help stabilize your knee and restore its strength and function.
Dr. Stephen R. Soffer is a board certified orthopedic surgeon who is fellowship trained in sports medicine and arthroscopy by the renowned sports surgeon, Dr. James Andrews. He is a leading expert in the diagnosis and treatment of the musculoskeletal system and specializes in the treatment of many sports-related injuries.
His inclusion in U.S. News & World Report’s Top Doctor listing for the last five years is only one of many reasons that players, coaches and team owners from National Leagues (MLB, MLS, NFL, NBA, NHL) as well as athletes in semi-pro, college and high school sports have come to rely on Dr. Soffer’s experience.
Introduction to the ACL
The ACL is one of the most important ligaments in the knee. It is a short, tough, rope-like ligament (about 1/2-inch wide) that is located in the center of the knee. It stabilizes the joint and prevents the femur (thigh bone) from moving too far backward over the tibia (shin bone).
The ACL sits between other important ligaments, including its partner, the posterior cruciate ligament (PCL), which is located near the back of the knee and keeps the femur from moving too far forward over the tibia. Other knee ligaments include the medial collateral ligament on the inside of the knee and the lateral collateral ligament on the outside. These ligaments keep the knee from moving from side to side.
How ACL Injuries Occur
Every year in the U.S., approximately 400,000 people tear their ACL, primarily in the course of playing football, soccer, basketball, or downhill skiing, and women have a higher incidence of ACL tears than men in the same sports. As sports have become a larger part of our everyday lives over the past few decades, the number of ACL injuries has steadily increased.
The most common injuries to the ACL occur from sudden deceleration (slowing down or stopping), hyperextension, or pivoting in place. Most patients report hearing or feeling a “pop.” This is typically followed by swelling, pain and instability.
ACL Treatment and Repair
A torn ACL does not heal itself and often leads to a feeling of instability, especially when trying to change direction. Pain and swelling will usually subside within several weeks, but the knee may still feel unstable.
Most patients receive physical therapy following an ACL injury. Range-of-motion exercises may help patients regain full movement and improve muscle strength and stability. An ACL brace may be recommended when surgery is not planned. Surgery may be recommended to get the knee functioning normally again if the symptoms of instability are not controlled by a brace and rehabilitation program.
ACL reconstruction is a common surgical procedure that replaces the torn ACL by grafting part of another tendon or ligament, usually from the knee or hamstring. Advances in arthroscopic surgery allow this to be done through small incisions around the knee and offers a faster recovery time. Most orthopedic surgeons, such as Dr. Soffer, prefer the extremely safe arthroscopic method of ACL repair.
Because it is minimally invasive, arthroscopy has several advantages compared to traditional “open” surgery, including:
- » Fewer and smaller incisions
- » Less trauma to connective tissue
- » Less scarring
- » Minimizes side effects, such as bleeding and infection
- » Faster healing and return to regular activities
- » Faster and more comfortable rehabilitation
Of course, arthroscopy is not appropriate for every patient in Reading, PA who needs ACL reconstruction surgery. Dr. Soffer will discuss the best options for you based on your individual condition in an effort to restore the stability of your knee and get you back on your feet as quickly as possible.