The anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) is one of the key ligaments connecting the femur and the tibia. A damaged ACL means that the knee simply can't bear weight or move normally. You use your ACL for everyday movement, like walking, but it's under the most stress when you're playing sports that require quick movements, like pivoting. Therefore, many patients who have torn ACLs play sports regularly.
ACL reconstruction may need to be considered in cases where a patient regularly plays sports such as football, soccer, or basketball. A healthy reconstructed ACL will allow you to resume the activity you love without making the injury worse. It's also helpful for patients who work in very physical jobs, as a healthy reconstructed ACL can help reduce the risk of reinjury in the future. In some cases, even patients who lead a fairly sedentary lifestyle may find that ACL reconstruction is beneficial -- particularly in cases where the knee feels like it "gives out" frequently.
Proper warm-ups and correct technique can go a long way toward preventing ACL tears. Something as simple as landing properly after a jump can really help reduce the strain on your knee ligaments. However, not all ACL damage can be prevented. To avoid ACL damage, focus on training and working out the right way, and avoid working out to the point of exhaustion.
A careful and measured recovery is important after ACL surgery. Dr. Haber will provide you with specific recommendations for physical activities. You'll typically begin a physical therapy program with physical therapist Ryan Sales in the weeks after your ACL surgery, which will allow you to strengthen the musculature around the knee and eventually return to full function. A big part of ACL surgery recovery is your commitment. If you follow through on the prescribed physical therapy exercises and follow all of Dr. Haber's recommendations closely, there's no reason you can't get back to playing the game you love -- and living the life you love -- quickly.
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