ACL Reconstruction: Is surgery the only choice?

7 mins read

Small ACL injuries may heal on their own, but most ACL injuries need ACL reconstruction.

What is an ACL?

Whenever you see a human skeleton at school, hospital or museum, you often see that they are held together with wires. Have you ever wondered, how are these bones held together inside our body?

The answer is ligaments.

We have ligaments in our body that connect one bone to another bone. All bones in your body are held together by these fibrous connective tissues. Your knee joint has four of these ligaments. They are Anterior Cruciate Ligament (ACL), Posterior Cruciate Ligament (PCL), Lateral Collateral Ligament (LCL) and Medial Collateral Ligament (MCL).


ACL Injury

Usually, a tear or strain to ACL is referred to as ACL Injury.

ACL might get torn or strained when it comes under high pressure and involves sudden changes in directions or sudden stops. These kind of situations usually occur while playing sports. Hence it is common to see ACL injury among people who play soccer, basketball, football and downhill skiing.

There is also a chance that ACL injury can happen when you come to a sudden stop while riding a bike and land on your leg in an improper way. Sometimes, ACL injury may occur during vehicular accidents.

In the case of small ACL tears, the surgeons will let it heal naturally. In the case of major ACL injury, the only treatment option is ACL Reconstruction.

Risks of ACL Reconstruction

Any surgery that uses anesthesia will have risks from anesthesia that include allergic reactions to medicines and breathing problems.

The risks that are involved due to surgery are bleeding and infection. Other risks are the ligament may fail to heal, the surgery might not provide relief to the symptoms, blood clot in the leg, pain in the knee, lost range of motion, stiffness and weakness of the knee.

How do you prepare for surgery?

There are some steps that you should follow before your ACL Reconstruction Surgery procedure. Two weeks prior to surgery, they are:

  • You should stop taking blood thinners.

  • If you have any other medical condition, kindly inform your doctor and take appropriate steps.

  • Stop drinking alcohol and stop smoking.

  • If you are a diabetic, you will have to consult a doctor.

On the day before your surgery,

  • You should not eat or drink anything 6 to 12 hours prior to the surgery.

  • Take the medications prescribed by your surgeon.

ACL Reconstruction

ACL Reconstruction is a surgical procedure where your surgeon repairs or reconstructs the torn ACL.

The Orthopedic Surgeon makes two small incisions around the knee. He then inserts the camera into one of the incisions and small surgical instruments are inserted in the other incision. The damaged and ruptured ligaments are then removed. 

The surgeon makes a graft either from another part of the knee or from a deceased donor. With the help of surgical instruments, the surgeon makes sockets into thigh and knee bone. This helps secure the graft. Once the procedure is complete, the surgeon closes the incision with sutures or stitches.

Post surgical care / What must not be done after ACL surgery?

After the surgery, the surgeon will provide some instructions in order to avoid any problems. These instructions will also help in proper recovery.

  • During the first few days, the patient should take bed rest. While in bed, the knee should be in a higher position than the rest of the body. You should apply ice on the knee in order to reduce swelling and pain.

  • Do not apply any pressure on your legs. 

  • You can use crutches to start walking


Q1. What happens if ACL injury is not treated?

Ans. If you ignore ACL injury, you may start experiencing instability in the knee. You may not be able to climb properly or run confidently. ACL injury may put extra pressure on the knee which may lead to osteoarthritis.

Q2. Can ACL repair itself?


Q3. Can an ACL tear heal without surgery?

Ans. As we have discussed earlier, if ACL injury is small then the injury might heal itself. If ACL injury is big or if the ACL has ruptured, then the surgeon will suggest a surgery.

Q4. Can you still walk with a torn ACL?

Ans. Yes, you can still walk with a torn ACL. It is advisable to consult a doctor since ACL injury can lead to osteoarthritis which usually needs Total Knee Replacement Surgery.

Q5. Is ACL injury serious?

Ans. Yes, ACL injury is serious. You will not be able to walk steadily with a torn ACL. As we have discussed above, leaving it untreated might lead to osteoarthritis.

Q6. How long does it take to recover from ACL surgery?

Ans. You recover from ACL reconstruction in stages. After 3 to 4 days, you will be able to walk with the help of crutches. After your physiotherapy and rehabilitation, you will be able to walk and return to sports in 6 to 12 weeks.

Q7. What is ACL reconstruction surgery?

Ans. ACL reconstruction is a surgical procedure where the surgeon repairs or reconstructs the torn ACL.

Q8. How common is ACL reconstruction?

Ans. ACL tear is common in India with 10 lakh cases per year. Usually, the only treatment option for ACL tear is ACL reconstruction.

If you any questions, you can call us at 7026 200 200 or visit our page.and know about the procedure, cost-estimate, videos

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