Injury Report: Jamal Anderson, Atlanta Falcons
WebMD News Archive
Just 5-7 years ago, torn ACLs commonly ended athletes' careers. For athletes
and other patients involved in pivoting sports or labor-intensive jobs, ACL
reconstruction surgery is recommended. For less active people, there is
nonsurgical treatment. These patients can strengthen the quadriceps and the
hamstring and wear a brace. But neither exercises nor braces can give them full
support, stability, or strength. The surgery entails taking a graft of another
ligament from the patient's body (an autograft) or from another body or a
cadaver (an allograft). That graft is placed in the knee, where the original
ACL had been, and fixed in place using a screw, glue, or a staple. During the
recovery period, the body incorporates the new ligament, and it replaces the
There is no way to prevent ACL injuries in contact sports. However, recent
studies have shown that female athletes are at a higher risk of sustaining ACL
injuries than male athletes. The reason may be that there are anatomic
differences that predispose women to this injury.
The average recovery period is 6-8 months. The patients begin walking
quickly after the surgery, and physical therapy begins within 2 weeks. At that
time, the patient begins stationary bicycle exercises and quadriceps and
hamstring strengthening. In 10-12 weeks, patients can begin jogging on a
treadmill, swimming, and golfing. At around 4 months, the patient can begin
pivoting maneuvers and drills. Finally, after 6-8 months, the athlete is able
to return to his or her sport.
With modern treatment, a torn ACL is no longer a career-ending injury.
Treatment works very well and allows many athletes to compete at their
pre-injury levels, although some who have suffered a torn ACL may feel that
they lose some of their maneuverability.
Medical information was provided by Michael J. Ciccotti MD, director of
sports medicine at the Rothman Institute at Thomas Jefferson University
Hospital in Philadelphia. Ciccotti is also the team physician for the