To ensure that you can walk without worrying, the key is to not neglect any warning signs related to your joints, especially if had any recent injury or a collision. Given that the incidence of an ACL tear is very high, timely consultation with the orthopedic surgeon is necessary to determine the grade of the tear. If surgery is recommended, talk to your doctor regarding all your queries and concerns. Doing so will clear your mind and you can undergo the procedure without any stress or fear.
The ACL (anterior cruciate ligament) is responsible for providing stability to the knee. ACL tear is a common orthopedic condition that can mostly occur during sports or any physically strenuous activity. It is factually right that the ACL is the most commonly injured ligament of the knee. Actions such as suddenly changing direction after slowing down, pivoting, and firmly planting your foot, a collision that directly impacts the knee are among the common causes for an ACL tear. When the impact is severe on the ligament, an ACL reconstruction is performed.
A person suffering from an ACL tear will immediately feel that there is something wrong with their knee joint. Doctors say that you can walk on a torn ACL but it won’t be exactly like before the knee injury. You may experience pain, knee deformity, reduced motion of the knee joint, swelling, etc. depending upon the severity of the injury. In case of a mild injury to the ligament, after a short period of rest and remedy, you may be able to walk normally in a straight line and even climb stairs without major discomfort. However, there may remain chances of further knee-related problems. Thus, if you suspect or are diagnosed with an ACL tear, proper medical treatment is a must. If you have been delaying the treatment or taking the condition casually, you should be aware of the associated health risks.
What are the risks of walking on a torn ACL?
Although it is possible to walk on a torn ACL, there are high chances of further damage or an increase in pain and discomfort. It is really important to be cautious of your physical activities with an ACL tear. Sudden twisting movements can lead to severe damage to knee cartilage. ACL tear also increases the chances of osteoarthritis. Osteoarthritis is a condition in which the joint and the underlying bone degenerate which in turn causes excruciating pain and stiffness in the knee joint. Hence, it is not wise to neglect the condition or leave it untreated for a long time.
How can you treat a torn ACL?
There are both surgical and non-surgical treatments available for an ACL tear. It is necessary to undergo a thorough diagnosis to get the right treatment for your ACL tear. Non-surgical treatments are effective for mild tears. The non-surgical treatment options for the ligament tear include- R.I.C.E. (Rest. Ice. Compression. Elevation.)
● Rest– Specialists advise to get at least 24-48 hours of rest for the injury to allow the pain and swelling to subside.
● Ice– Using ice-packs for about 20 minutes after every four hours within the first 2 days of the injury proves to be effective in curing swelling, pain, and inflammation.
● Compression– Use a medical bandage to wrap around the injured knee. Doing so brings down the swelling and stops if any internal bleeding is there. The compression wrap should be firm but not too tight to allow proper blood circulation. Usually, the pain and swelling come down significantly if the injury is not severe.
● Elevation– Make sure that you rest the injured knee above your heart level. Elevation allows any liquid to flow away from the site of the injury.
However, non-surgical remedies do not provide long-lasting relief in severe or completely torn ACL. In such cases, it is highly advised to undergo surgical reconstruction of ACL for permanent relief and prevention from complications.
Is it safe to undergo ACL reconstruction surgery?
Understandably, there come a lot of apprehensions and concerns when you think of surgery. Thus, you should be well informed so that you can make the best decision ACL reconstruction surgery is a safe procedure necessary to regain natural mobility of the joint when the damage is severe. The ACL is reconstructed by using a graft to replace the torn ligament. Mostly, the graft is taken from the patient’s tendon of the knee cap (autograft). In some cases, graft or the tendon can also be donated by any other person, called allograft. Nowadays, orthopedic surgeons prefer arthroscopic surgery over an open procedure for a torn ACL. The arthroscopy-assisted technique to perform surgeries on the joints is minimally invasive. During the procedure, the doctor makes 2-3 minor incisions near the knee to insert an arthroscope. An arthroscope is a flexible thin tube-like structure with a camera mounted at one end. Through the other incisions, other surgical tools are inserted by the surgeon to replace the damaged ligament. There is only minimal bleeding during the surgery and the chances of post-operative complications and risks are almost nil. The hospital stay is short and smooth for the patient.
When can you walk after an ACL reconstruction surgery?
The minimally invasive arthroscopic ACL reconstruction surgery enables the patient to recover and get back on their feet faster. Your doctor will give you the instruction on walking after the surgery. You may start walking without assistance within 2-4 weeks following the procedure. However, in the case of open surgery, it may take around 4-6 weeks or more to walk unassisted.