MedStar Health knee specialists offer sophisticated pain management to limit pain caused by surgery, as well as the most advanced physical therapy treatment to build back your strength and range of motion. No matter how simple or complex your knee condition, the experienced orthopaedic knee surgeons at MedStar Health will offer you a successful solution.
The ACL (anterior cruciate ligament) can be torn if the knee is pulled or twisted in an unnatural way. Injuries to the ACL are especially common in sports where side-to-side or pivoting movement of the knee is required; soccer, basketball, skiing, and football are frequent culprits. An injured ACL is associated with the following symptoms:
- An audible pop or snapping upon injury
- Immediate and sustained swelling in the knee
- Instability in the knee that can cause it to give out
- Inability to bear weight
- Significant pain that does not diminish in the hours following the injury
- A feeling of fullness in the knee
Elderly, less active patients may not require surgery following an ACL injury—if the overall stability of the knee is healthy and the patient has a low activity level, the physician may recommend non-surgical options. For young athletes, however, surgery is usually needed. The torn ligament must be replaced with a tissue graft, which will then form the base for the new ligament to grow on.
Many techniques are used to perform ACL reconstruction. Most are performed arthroscopically (a minimally invasive approach) through small puncture holes. A graft is placed in the location of your torn ligament and held in place by a fixation device such as a screw. This allows for early motion and rehab while the graft matures to a new functioning ACL. This surgery can be performed in about an hour, and patients go home the same day.
Regrowth of the ACL graft can take a long time; it may be over six months before an athlete can return to his or her sport. Physical therapy following the surgery will center on first returning motion to the joint and surrounding muscles before building strength to protect the new ligament. Find a doctor who treats ACL injuries.
The meniscus is a piece of cartilage that serves as a shock absorber between the ends of the leg bones, helps lubricate the joint, and distributes body weight across the joint. Meniscal tears are typically caused by twisting or hyperflexing the joint. These tears can also occur due to degenerative processes caused by aging.
Meniscal Tear Repair
Many meniscal tears can be treated without surgery. However, if the symptoms from the tear fail to resolve with conservative management, surgery is often recommended. A knee arthroscopy is an outpatient procedure that can be done in under an hour. The torn piece of meniscus is either repaired or removed through small puncture holes and recovery takes place over several weeks. Meniscus transplant involves planting a new cartilage ring (from a tissue bank) in the knee. This is performed in cases where the tear is so severe that all or almost all of the meniscus cartilage must be removed. The transplant is performed with arthroscopic assistance, using small incisions. Any tissue remaining from the old meniscus is shaved away, and a small incision is made in the front of the knee through which to insert the new meniscus. Sutures are used to sew the transplant into place. Find a doctor who treats meniscus injuries.