As the largest joint in the body, the knee is prone to injury. According to the American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons, or AAOS, knee problems lead to more visits to orthopedic surgeons than any other problems. Two common knee injuries are ACL and meniscal tears, and they can affect people of any age.
The ACL, or anterior cruciate ligament, is one of four major ligaments in the knee, connecting the top of the lower leg, or tibia, to the bottom of the thigh bone, or femur. ACL tears are often caused by a rapid change of direction or a hard landing after a jump, and are common sports injuries in tennis, soccer, basketball and skiing. About 200,000 people each year suffer ACL injuries, and about half of those require ACL reconstructive surgery, according to the AAOS. Patients with ACL injuries often experience a large amount of swelling, a loss of full range of motion, discomfort while walking and pain or tenderness around the knee.
To repair a torn ACL, an orthopedic surgeon will use a tendon graft to replace the damaged ligament. The graft can come from the patient’s body by using tendon tissue from elsewhere in the patient’s leg or donor tissue. The repair can be done using minimally invasive arthroscopic surgery. The AAOS reports that surgical reconstruction is a successful, long-term treatment 82 to 95 percent of the time. Patients who undergo ACL repair will need physical therapy to regain full strength and range of motion following surgery.
Meniscal tears are another common knee injury. The meniscus are pieces of cartilage that act as shock absorbers between the femur and tibia. Sudden meniscal tears are often the result of sports, when players twist the knee. Older people may also suffer from degenerative meniscal tears, as the cartilage weakens and becomes thinner with age. Patients with meniscal tears may feel a “pop” but otherwise not notice any immediate effects; however, after a few days, the knee becomes stiff, swollen and painful, and loses full range of motion. If left untreated, the torn piece of meniscus may find its way into the joint, which can cause the knee to slip or lock, causing further injury.
Depending on the severity and location of the tear, surgery may not be required to fix the torn meniscus, but patients who suspect they may have torn their meniscus should have their knee evaluated by an orthopedic surgeon. The surgeon will either remove the damaged meniscal tissue in a meniscectomy, or will repair the damaged meniscus by stitching the torn pieces. After the surgery, patients can expect to keep their knee in a cast or brace and use crutches for about one month, followed by physical therapy to restore full range of motion to the knee. A meniscus repair requires approximately 3 months of recovery time, while a meniscectomy usually heals within a month.
The surgeon will either remove the damaged meniscal tissue in a meniscectomy, or will repair the damaged meniscus by stitching the torn pieces, but this is a rare circumstance in a very young individual where the diagnosis is obtained soon after the injury. After the surgery, patients can expect to keep their knee in a cast or brace and use crutches for about one month, followed by physical therapy to restore full range of motion to the knee. A meniscus repair requires approximately 3 months of recovery time, while a meniscectomy usually heals within 4-6 weeks. Dr Dupay was fortunate to begin his orthopedic training when arthroscopic surgery was first introduced. He can provide for you an experienced opinion about your knee injury.
To schedule your appointment, please call Orthopedic Associates of Southwest Florida at 239-768-2272, or ask your physician for a referral.
Edward R. Dupay, Jr, DO
Dr. Dupay graduated from Xavier University in Cincinnati, Ohio. He received his Doctor of Osteopathy at the University of Health Sciences, College of Osteopathic Medicine in Kansas City, Missouri.
Dr. Dupay completed his Internship and Orthopedic Surgery Residency at Flint Osteopathic Hospital in Flint, Michigan. Dr. Dupay has been in the Fort Myers / Cape Coral area since 1987. Dr. Dupay enjoys seeing the “Weekend Warrior” athlete, as well as all patients suffering from crippling osteoarthritis.
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