Anterior Cruciate Ligament (ACL) Injury
The ACL is a ligament in the knee that helps maintain the stability of the leg. Contact injuries, falls, jumps, sudden stops and pivoting motions can tear the ACL, resulting in pain, swelling and immobility.
Some patients with ACL injuries gain stability within a few months of rest and physical therapy, but others may require an operation called ACL reconstruction.
Who Needs ACL Reconstruction
The need for this operation depends on a number of factors, including the patient's age, activity level and the severity of damage to the ACL and adjacent parts of the knee.
In general, sedentary people rarely require an ACL reconstruction
if they experience little or no knee instability. However, if instability is
a significant problem, then ACL reconstruction may be recommended. Serious
athletes and people who intend on maintaining a physically demanding lifestyle
usually opt for ACL reconstruction
in order to stabilize the knee and to prevent further injury.
Special considerations apply for children who have ACL injuries that may require surgical intervention. Due to the fragility of the growth plates in the knee, it is sometimes advisable to postpone ACL reconstruction until the child is older and the skeleton has reached maturity. Another alternative is to perform a surgical technique that limits the potential damage to the growth plates. Your child's pediatric orthopaedic surgeon can advise you on the pros and cons of these options.
To learn more about pediatric orthopaedic conditions, please refer to the following organizations: