ACL Injury


Surgical Options

If surgery is recommended, it will usually mean reconstruction of the ligament. ACL ligaments cannot be reattached once they are injured. To reconstruct the ligament, your orthopaedic surgeon will replace it with a tissue graft that can be harvested from the patellar tendon, which runs between the kneecap and the shinbone. Hamstrings are also a common source of grafts. These are the tendons on the back of the thigh. Quadriceps tendons are good candidates as well, which run from the kneecap into the thigh, as are those from cadavers.

Since there are advantages and disadvantages to each, your surgeon at the FHCH Sports Medicine Program will review all the graft options with you so you can jointly determine which option is best for you.

The actual surgery is done arthroscopically using small incisions. The benefits of this minimally invasive procedure are less pain from the surgery itself, less time spent in the hospital recovering and a quicker recovery timeframe. Performing an ACL reconstruction is not done immediately, unless it is part of a combined ligament injury. Performing the procedure too soon can increase the risk of arthrofibrosis, a scar that forms in the joint, which runs the risk of loss of knee motion.



Regardless whether the injury requires surgery or not, rehabilitation plays an essential role in getting you back in shape quickly so you can return to your normal level of activity. A physical therapy program will help you regain the knee strength and motion you need to participate in activities with confidence.

If surgery was performed, physical therapy will concentrate on returning motion to the joint and its surrounding muscles. This is followed by a strengthening program that is designed to protect the new ligament. This strengthening increases the stress that can be placed on the ligament gradually. The final phase is functional training that is geared specifically to the patient's sport or activity.

For causes, symptoms and non-surgical treatment options, click here.

If you have questions about surgical options or want to make an appointment with one of our sports medicine experts to discuss your condition, please contact our Patient Care Coordinators and they'll be happy to help you.