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Martha Jefferson Healthwise: Treating ACL Injuries

August 21, 2013

The new school year has started for many area students. That means many kids will be gearing up for fall sports.

In this week's Martha Jefferson Healthwise report, CBS19's Stephanie Satchell is talking to an orthopedic surgeon about ACL injuries and a new type of treatment being offered at the hospital.

As students get on the field, there's always a chance for injury. Dr. Stephen Gunther of Martha Jefferson Orthopedics says one of the most common injuries is an ACL tear.

"When the ACL tears, it's usually a turning twisting cutting injury or sometimes when you get struck from the side playing soccer and you pivot and try to turn in a different direction, the ligament pops in the middle of the knee and then it swells within the knee. So, within an hour or two you get swelling and pain and stiffness and it's hard to walk," said Dr. Stephen Gunther, Orthopedic Surgeon, Martha Jefferson.

If a patient chooses to have surgery to fix an ACL tear, they have a few options.

All of the options use different tendons from other parts of the body like the hamstrings, patellar tendons or the quad tendon. The tendons will act as a ligament to stabilize the knee and make it easier to move the knee around.

"I've been using a new technique with only one of the hamstring tendons because you quadruple it and it's a new technique to go outside in and ream from inside out in the knee. So, you don't drill holes all the way through the bone. So, it's less pain and less stiffness after surgery.

With other older techniques, you had to drill all the way through the bone which resulted in more recovery time for the patient.

"It's a fantastic feeling because you take a kid or adult that has a debilitated knee that's stiff and painful and constantly giving way and they can get back to the normal sports.

After the ACL has fully healed, Dr. Gunther says, patients can return to sports and there's no increased rate of the ligament tearing again in the same knee. He adds that full recovery typically takes between six and 12 months.

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