Knee joint is the largest joint of the body. It is an articulation between 3 bones namely thigh bone (femur), shin bone (Tibia) and knee cap (patella). A smaller bone (fibula) stands parallel to shin bone and articulates with the knee joint.
The doctor examines the knee and performs a certain manual test to diagnose the tear. If the examinations suggest a significant ACL injury, he may ask you to go for a magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scan or execute a camera-guided surgery (arthroscopy) to inspect the damage to the ACL.
Based on physical examination and review of diagnostic imaging, the ligament injury is graded into following types -
Non-surgical treatment: Patient suffering from grade I and II ACL injury are instructed to follow the RICE rule:
The doctor may prescribe nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medications to relieve pain and ease swelling. As the pain subsides gradually, your doctor will start with a rehabilitation program to strengthen the weakened muscles and improve stability.
Surgical treatment: Surgery is considered when the patient is not responding well to non-surgical treatment or when the injury is severe. Usually, the torn ligament is replaced with an alternative graft made of a tendon.
The incision site is closed with stitches or surgical clips and covered with sterile bandages. You may experience painful bruising and swelling around the knee joint. However, these are temporary symptoms and will improve over time. You will be discharged home the next day with a knee brace in place.Continue physiotherapy after discharge from hospital for at least 6 to 8 weeks. Low intensity exercises will be performed initially. Avoid weight bearing for the initial few weeks and walk with the help of a walker or crutches. Gradually after 1 month your knee will regain strength and bending and straightening your knee will become easier. Walking off crutches can also be done. You can resume driving after consulting your doctor.
Three months after surgery you can start with swimming and cycling. You will also be able to resume most of the normal activities. However, regaining complete strength may take 6 months to a year.