Posts Tagged ‘torn ACL’

Back to Life After an ACL Injury!

Prevent Joint PainACL, anterior cruciate ligament, injuries are one of the most common knee injuries among athletes. The American Orthpedic Society for Sports Medicine estimates there are over 150,000 ACL injuries each year in the US. ACL injuries can happen to everyone – from the professional athletes to the weekend warriors. The good news is that with proper treatment with an ACL specialist and adequate recovery, you can get back to the sport you love! Watch this short video of Neil, an Emory Sports Medicine patient, who has recovered from ACL surgery and is back to playing tennis and doing the things he loves to do.

About Dr. John Xerogeanes
Dr. Xerogeanes is Chief of Sports Medicine at the Emory Orthopaedic & Spine Center. Known as Dr. “X” by his staff and patients, he is an Associate Professor of Orthopaedic Surgery at Emory University as well as an Adjunct Professor at Georgia State and Mercer University. Dr. X is entering his 12th year as Head Orthopaedist and Team Physician for Georgia Tech, Emory University, Agnes Scott College and the Atlanta Dream of the WNBA. He specializes in ACL and ACL revision surgery performing over 200 of these operations each year. He is board certified in orthopaedic surgery and has his sub-specialty certification in orthopaedic sports medicine.

Dr. Xerogeanes has been recognized as one of US News & World Report’s Top Doctors with a special distinction listing him among the top 1% in the nation in his specialty. 

About Dr. Spero Karas
Dr. Karas is the Director of the Orthopaedic Sports Medicine Fellowship Program and an Associate Professor of Orthopaedic Surgery at Emory University. His specialties include sports medicine, surgery of the shoulder and knee, and arthroscopic surgery. He came to Emory in 2005, after serving as Chief of the Shoulder Service and team physician at the University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill. He is Board Certified in Orthopaedic Surgery, with a subspecialty certification in Orthopaedic Sports Medicine. He currently serves as head team physician for the Atlanta Falcons and is a consulting team physician for Emory University and Georgia Tech athletics. He cares for patients and athletes of all levels: professional, collegiate, scholastic, and recreational.

Dr. Karas was recognized as one of America’s “Top Orthopaedic Doctors” in Men’s Health Magazine April 2007 and “Top Sports Medicine Specialists for Women” in Women’s Health Magazine. Atlanta Magazine has named him “Atlanta’s Most Trusted Sports Medicine Specialist” for the past three years. Dr. Karas is an internationally recognized expert in the field of shoulder, knee, and sports medicine.

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Defining Post-Op Goals After ACL Surgery

ACL post operative goals

It is estimated that there are approximately 80,000 anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) tears in the U.S. each year. Not surprisingly, 70% of those injuries take place while the person injured is participating in athletic activity. Because ACL tears are so common and can put a hindrance on an athlete pursuing his or her career or passion, our Emory Sports Medicine team has put together an ACL program specifically for people seeking guidance in their treatment and recovery from ACL injuries and tears.

In our last blog post on ACL injuries, we got you familiar with the idea of prehabilitation, or care and steps to take before surgery for an ACL-tear. which is part one of the ACL program at Emory. In this post, we’ll cover some of the details and goals of your post-op recovery from ACL surgery, including what you should expect to see week by week:

ACL Surgery Post-Op Weeks 1-3

Goals: The goals in the first three weeks of your recovery from ACL surgery are fairly straight forward, to get patients back on their feet (off crutches), reduce swelling in the joint by faithfully icing (20 min every 2-4 hrs), and to increase the knee’s range of motion and focusing on getting extension back. For specific measurements you should track and exercises to consider, check out the materials on our website.

ACL Surgery Post-Op Weeks 4-6

Goals: Consistently reducing swelling in the knee and continuing to work on increasing the knee’s range of motion are the core goals of ACL surgery recovery weeks 4-6. At this point in your surgical recovery, your knee should be able to be straight or equal to other knee. Your knee joint should be cooing and not warm to touch. Those 4-6 weeks out from surgery should focus on being able to walk without limping and strengthening quadricep muscles.

ACL Surgery Post-Op Weeks 7-12

Goals: 2-3 months after ACL surgery, swelling should be controlled and there should be minimal effusion in the knee joint. Range of motion should be nearly full or equal to the other side full extension and knee flexion should be to 120 degrees. Knee joint should be cool and normal temperature, compared to other side. By this point, patients should have achieved good quadriceps tone with their vastus medialis oblique (VMO) firing effectively. Patients should also seek to establish normal gait pattern and be able to walk without limping at this point.

Does your recovery timeline after ACL surgery match up with what you see here? If so, or if not, please feel free to share your story with us and with our readers.

Emory Sports Medicine’s ACL injury program specializes in providing care ranging from the prehabilitation stage to getting you back in the game. So, in our next ACL injury post, we’ll share with you specific exercises you can use and steps you can take (including video demonstrations) to help you return to play more quickly. Stay tuned!

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Emory’s ACL Rehabilitation Program Gets Athletes Back on Track

ACL Rehabilitation ProgramDid you know? “Prehabilitation” is just as important as rehabilitation after an ACL tear?

If you’re an athlete, you’re at a greater risk for knee injury than someone who doesn’t participate regularly in a sport. One of the most common sports injuries, the anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) tear, can happen suddenly. Twist your knee sharply or extend it beyond its normal range during play, and you may hear the telltale “pop.”

While many sports injuries can be treated non-surgically, some, like an ACL tear, may benefit from surgery. The sports medicine physicians, physical therapists, and certified athletic trainers at the Emory Sports Medicine Center have designed the ACL Rehabilitation Program to help you prepare for ACL surgery, enjoy a successful post-op recovery, and ease back into play.

When an ACL tear requires surgery, pre-surgery care, or “prehabilitation,” will go a long way toward ensuring a successful post-operative recovery.

The 4 Key Goals of the Prehabilitation are to:

  1. reduce swelling
  2. retain range of motion
  3. retain muscle size and strength
  4. maintain cardiovascular fitness

After an ACL injury, your first step is to get the swelling down. During the initial 48 hours, be sure to ice your injured knee for 15–20 minutes at least two to three times a day. While you’re icing your knee, keep your knee elevated above your heart as much as possible. To decrease inflammation, provide compression for your injured knee with a knee sleeve or ACE bandage.

In addition to reducing swelling with ice, elevation, and compression, you’ll want to retain your range of motion and muscle size and strength and maintain your cardiovascular fitness. To do this, you’ll need to keep exercising. Emory’s physical therapists and certified athletic trainers will work with you to create an individualized exercise plan that will help you prehabilitate your knee without reinjuring it.

Check out Emory’s ACL Rehabilitation Program website and watch videos that will take you step by step through exercises to do during prehabilitation, surgical recovery, and when you’re returning to play.

Have you had an ACL injury that required surgery? We’d like to hear about your experience. Please take a moment to give us feedback in the comments section below.

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How Long Does It Take to Return From ACL Surgery?

If you’re a fan of the New England Patriots (or just a sports-medicine physician and surgeon), you’ve probably been watching the comeback of receiver Wes Welker from ACL reconstructive surgery very closely. Welker tore his ACL in January of this year, and the latest news suggests he’s aiming to start Game 1 of the NFL season on September 12. He’s already participated in contact drills with the Patriots.

Welker’s comeback has raised some eyebrows because he’s pushing conventional time limits for his return to the sport. Most people who undergo reconstructive knee surgery can return to athletic activities at six to eight months, but they’re usually not back to their previous level of competition until one year. Keep in mind—we’re not talking about tennis with a friend here; this is the NFL.

Professional athletes are like a Petri dish for the rest of us. They take the human body to the limits of what it can do, and so we learn from them. Ultimately, we often want to emulate them, which is why it’s important to put Welker’s comeback into perspective.

One of my patients, a Georgia Tech football player, is coming back from ACL reconstruction, and he’s complaining of soreness. We stress to kids that the average pro football player takes 54 weeks to return to play after an ACL injury. When a patient tries to return earlier, they often experience pain and swelling, and are at some level of increased risk of re-injury.

Here are some warning signs we look for that could indicate an athlete is pushing the limits on their comeback:

1. Pain and soreness in the front part of the knee (in the patella tendon area)

2. Swelling of the knee

3. A general feeling of fatigue

If a patient experiences one or more of these symptoms, they need to back off from their training, and concentrate on icing, riding the exercise bike, and resting. They can always resume training when they’re feeling better. If you’ve had ACL surgery and your “comeback” to the activities you enjoy isn’t going as expected, call us at Emory Sports Medicine. We can provide a safe, solid game plan for your return to action.

Meanwhile, if Welker succeeds and contributes another valuable season to Tom Brady and the Patriots, his determination should be praised; however, that doesn’t mean his quick comeback should be emulated.

About John Xerogeanes, MD:

Dr. Xerogeanes, or Dr. “X”, is chief of Sports Medicine at the Emory Orthopaedic & Spine Center. He is also head orthopaedist and team physician for Georgia Tech, Emory University, and Agnes Scott College. As a member of a number of professional societies and organizations, including the American Orthopaedic Society for Sports Medicine, and the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons, Dr. Xerogeanes has contributed to many textbooks and has received numerous research awards. Dr. Xerogeanes’ work has been featured on CNN, ESPN and network television news.