Cornwall LivingIssue #65

Back on your feet

We take our joints for granted, but if you have ever injured your knees, you’ll know how challenging it is. There’s help at hand from Duchy Hospital’s experts.

Knee injuries can occur during a range of sports such as skiing, tennis, squash, football and rugby. They can also be caused by more mundane activities like tripping over the cat, running after the kids, gardening or perhaps some over-enthusiastic DIY.

“The good news is that this operation is available from expert surgeons at Duchy Hospital here in Cornwall.”

One of the most common types of knee injury, which accounts for around 40% of all sporting injuries, is to the anterior cruciate ligament (ACL).

The ACL is a tough band of tissue joining the thigh bone to the shin bone at the knee joint. It helps control the back and forward and rotational movement of the lower leg and runs diagonally through the inside of the knee, giving stability to the knee joint.

Common causes of an ACL injury include landing badly from a jump, stopping abruptly, changing direction suddenly or a collision, such as a football or rugby tackle.

If the ACL is torn, the knee can become unstable and tends to simply give way, either with sporting activities or sometimes with the activities of daily living. This can make it difficult to perform some movements like turning on the spot. It can also be painful.

The good news is that it is possible to surgically reconstruct the ACL and this operation is available from expert surgeons at Duchy Hospital here in Cornwall.

Reconstructive ACL surgery

Mr Andrew Lee is a Consultant Orthopaedic Surgeon at Duchy Hospital. He tells us more:

“A torn ACL can’t usually be repaired by stitching it back together. However, it can be reconstructed by grafting [attaching] new tissue onto it.

“The ACL can be reconstructed by removing what remains of the torn ligament and replacing it with a tendon from, for example, the hamstring or patellar tendon. ACL reconstruction is a common procedure with a success rate for stabilising the knee of about 95%. Patients need to do a lot of physiotherapy/rehabilitation both before and after the procedure.

“The operation takes about an hour and generally patients stay in overnight, although occasionally this can be done as a day case. Most people do not need a brace after surgery, and most are off crutches two to three weeks post-surgery. Return to sport after ACL reconstruction varies in its timing, but generally I recommend a year for contact sports or sports that involve a lot of twisting.”

"The good news is that this operation is available from expert surgeons at Duchy Hospital here in Cornwall."