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Dr Wojciech Słowiński, a specialist in sports orthopaedics at enel-sport, talks about ruptured anterior cruciate ligaments and how to treat them.

What are anterior cruciate ligament injuries?

Anterior cruciate ligament injuries are not always caused by sports, although with today’s tendencies to train intensively and the popularity of such sports as football or skiing, these types of injuries are common. The biggest problem with an anterior cruciate ligament injury is that it does not regenerate. It just doesn’t fix itself.

What can cause damage to the anterior cruciate ligament?

An unstable knee joint not only leads to discomfort, limiting physical activity and pain, but it also increases the risk of repeated joint sprains and damage to other structures, including other ligaments, menisci and articular cartilage. As we know, chronic instability of the knee joint leads to degenerative changes, because the areas around it don’t function properly and wear off, often causing cartilage damage after many years, sometimes even earlier.

Anterior cruciate ligament reconstruction surgery – what does it involve?

Reconstruction of the anterior cruciate ligament is performed using low-invasive, endoscopic methods. An arthroscopy procedure is performed with the help of small surgical accesses, with optics and surgical tools inserted into the knee joint, which allows us to confirm whether there is damage to the ligament requiring reconstruction. The reconstruction procedure itself is also performed endoscopically.

How are anterior cruciate ligaments transplanted?

The most popular and effective methods involve using the patient’s own tissues. These include the patient’s tendons (hamstring muscles, rectus femoris) or the medial part of the patellar tendon. Tests have shown that the results are the same, but the differences are in the initial stages. The patellar tendon is more rigid, which is why they are most often used in professional athletes.

Recovery time after anterior cruciate ligament reconstruction surgery

After surgery, the patient usually does not require additional immobilisation in the form of an orthosis. Very often, the patient can use the operated limb immediately after the procedure, walking on crutches and beginning rehabilitation approximately 10 days after the procedure, which can take several months. The aim of rehabilitation is to ensure the ligament functions properly, as well as the muscles that support the limb. In fact, this is a key element that allows the patient after a few months to not only return to fitness, which occurs much earlier, but to be able to again compete in sports. Within 5-6 months it is possible to return to playing professional sports, which was once impossible.