Why Wait to Repair an ACL?
Written on November 12, 2008 at 9:48 am, by Eric Cressey
Q: I was just curious: why would surgeons have waited so long to repair Brady’s ACL? It seems that it would be ideal to do the surgery as soon as possible after the injury to give him more time to rehab and come back.
A: It actually has less to do with the anterior cruciate ligament (ACL), and more to do with the associated injuries he (presumably) had. It’s widely speculated that he ruptured both the ACL and medial collateral ligament (MCL).
A MCL will heal on its own, in most cases, so they’ll give it 4-6 weeks to do so before going in to do the ACL reconstruction. Had he experienced a lateral meniscus tear, though (as is common in traumatic ACL injuries), they’d have gone in pretty quickly. ACL injuries that also include the lateral meniscus are typically much more serious and potentially career-threatening.
With all ACL ruptures, they’ll usually have folks wait at least a few days to allow the swelling to go down. In some cases – particularly with really deconditioned individuals, they might opt for a period of physical therapy prior to the surgery to strengthen the surrounding musculature, reduce swelling, and ensure full knee extension ROM to improve post-op outcomes.
If you’re interested in learning more about knee function and injuries, Mike Robertson has actually pulled together some great stuff with his Bulletproof Knees Manual. It’s definitely worth checking out.
All that said, best wishes to Brady for a speedy recovery. Us Pats fans look forward to seeing him back on the field.