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ACL Tears: Can Shrinkage Help?

ACL Tears: Can Shrinkage Help?

Injuries to the anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) used to be considered serious. However, advancements in technology have made knee surgery less invasive and more effective. One procedure option you can choose to be performed by an orthopedic surgeon in San Francisco is ACL shrinkage, which can repair stretched ligaments.  

At The Institute for Arthroscopy & Sports Medicine in San Francisco, California, Dr. Jeffrey Halbrecht, a skilled San Francisco knee surgeon and his experienced team can help diagnose and evaluate your knee condition and figure out if ACL shrinkage can be a successful treatment for your injury.

Understanding ACL tears

The knee is the largest joint in the body, and it endures great stress. Sports, especially ones that involve running, jumping, and changing direction quickly, can result in various knee injuries. This includes ACL injuries, which are often caused by twisting or hyperextension. 

The anterior cruciate ligament stabilizes the knee. If this ligament becomes stretched or torn, it can weaken the entire joint and lead to further injury. Treatment for ACL injuries depends on the severity of the damage. 

A torn ACL will likely require reconstruction using a graft from your patella, hamstring, or a cadaver. However, stretched ligaments can be repaired using a unique method: ACL shrinkage. 

The benefits of ACL shrinkage 

ACL shrinkage is a relatively new procedure, and the technique is still being improved upon. Shrinkage is less intense than reconstruction, but it can only be done if the ligament is still intact. Dr. Halbrecht performs biomechanical tests to determine if you’re eligible for this procedure, and he recommends it on a case-by-case basis. 

If you’re a good candidate, he performs the surgery using arthroscopes and a specialized heated probe. The heat shrinks the fibers of the ligament, shortening the ACL and increasing tension. This effect is temporary, though, and the ACL will slowly stretch out again over time. 

However, for minor ACL issues, the procedure could be sufficient to give your body time to heal more substantially. This surgery also has a shorter recovery time than reconstruction.

Consulting a specialist 

When dealing with injuries to the ACL, it’s important to consult a sports medicine specialist. We have the experience to accurately diagnose your injury, and can provide you with a wider range of treatment options. This is important if you’re an athlete, especially if you plan to return to sports. 

If you’ve recently suffered a knee injury, you should seek treatment as soon as possible. If your ACL has been torn or stretched, early intervention can help you heal faster and more effectively. 

To schedule a consultation with Dr. Halbrecht, call the location closest to you, or book an appointment online

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