Before going through knee ligament replacement surgery, your movement is restricted and your joint is stiffened and there is severe pain and inflammation. Your every step is painful. Surgery is performed to help you get rid of pain and inflammation. After being operated upon, your walking ability is improved. Pain and inflammation subside. You can again take part in sports after a complete recovery.
The knee joint is a major weight-bearing joint of your body. It is present between the thigh bone and shin bone. Its stability is maintained by a number of ligaments. One of them is Medial Collateral Ligament (MCL). It is also known as tibial collateral ligament. It is one of the most important ligaments of the knee joint. It is located at the inner aspect of your joint at the medial side. This ligament is responsible for the side to side movement and stability of your knee. It is more commonly damaged than lateral collateral ligament. Damage can be due to accidents, automobile injury, sports injury, etc. Overstretching or a hit by a hard object on the side of the knee can cause tearing of its fibers. It is a painful condition and movement is affected. There is inflammation due to bleeding in the joint. The torn ligament can be fixed by knee ligament replacement surgery.
The patient is sedated by giving general or local anesthesia. A small incision is given to insert an arthroscope which is an instrument to view inside the joint cavity. After a complete inspection, an incision is given on the inner aspect of the knee. If the ligament is torn at its point of attachment to the femur or tibia, it is stitched or stapled together. It can even be stitched if it is torn in the middle. However, sometimes it is damaged to such an extent that replacement surgery is needed. Hamstring tendons from your own body are grafted at its place. Sometimes tendons from a donor are employed. Donor’s tendon is fixed at the same place where medial collateral ligament used to be. It is placed there using staples, screws or stitches which cannot be removed later on. After this procedure, incisions are sewn and a bandage is applied over it.
Length of Stay in Destination
It is not a lengthy surgery and requires only 1 to 1.5 hour. After this, your health condition is monitored for some time. When your vitals return to normal, you are shifted to a room. An overnight stay at the hospital is advised after which you are discharged. Even after being discharged, you have to visit your doctor on a regular basis for some time. You should plan to stay in the local area for at least 14 days after your surgery, during this period, your wounds heal and stitches are removed. If dissolvable stitches are given, they will dissolve in this time. When you get better enough to go home, your doctors tell you to leave for home.
A medial collateral ligament tear can be of three degrees and each requiring a different length of time for recovery. In the case of knee ligament surgery, 6 months are needed for complete recovery. Office work can be started after 4 to 5 weeks. You can return to jogging 4 months after the surgery. 6 months are needed to get back to sports. Recovery time can even be prolonged to a year depending upon various factors such as your environment, diet, physical condition, etc. During the recovery period, you suffer from pain and inflammation for which medicines are prescribed.
You should take care of following points to look after you after being discharged from the hospital:
- Go for a regular check-up until you are asked to stop by the doctor.
- Take your medicines regularly, as and when prescribed by your physician. Avoid self-medication.
- Eat healthy and nutritious food for quick recovery. Follow a diet plan made by an expert.
- Wear knee cuffs to brace your knee. It will help you avoid unnecessary movement.
- Use walking aids such as crutches and walker for easy movement.
- Do not live alone. Make sure a relative or a friend live with you to look after you.
- Avoid taking a bath in the early few days. A wet bandage can be the cause of infection.
- Keep your knee above the level of your feet by putting pillows below it.
- Use ice packs to help you with swelling. These are very effective in reducing inflammation.
- Start physiotherapy under expert supervision. It increases the pace of recovery.
For medial collateral ligament surgery, the success rate is reported to be 85 to 90%. Infection and blood clot formation can be one of the causes of failed surgery. In case this operation fails, another surgery is performed. This is called a revision of replacement surgery. This works out but does not give as positive results as achieved by the first successful surgery. You are able to walk without pain. But you cannot do sports again. It might damage your ligament again making it difficult for you to walk. Give yourself time and care for better recovery and to prevent failure.
Alternatives to a Knee Ligament Surgery (MCL) Procedure
Surgery should never be the first and foremost option. Consider other options before going through a surgery. Consult your doctor to know if you need surgery or not. Following are some alternatives to knee ligament surgery:
- Stem cell therapy: stem cells are extracted from different parts of your own body. These cells have the ability to differentiate into any kind of specialized cells. These are injected into the joint, where they regenerate torn fibers of medial collateral ligament. Pain and inflammation are considerably reduced and movement is increased.
- Prolotherapy: an irritant such as dextrose is injected into the joint. It stimulates regeneration of MCL fibers. Repair of ligament promotes joint movement.
- Plasma rich platelets: growth factors are separated from platelets after centrifugation. These are injected into the joint. Growth factors stimulate the growth of the torn fibers, reducing pain and swelling.
For an in-depth analysis of a Knee Ligament Surgery Procedure, watch this short video.
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