ACL Reconstruction after age 40

By: Stacy McCloud Email
By: Stacy McCloud Email

Carol Richardson remembers how she tore the acl ligament in her knee when she wound up to throw a ball. "I got the ball and i came across my body and kept on going down. I heard this, not really a snap, but something, and i couldn't get up. It was very painful," describes Richardson.

As Carol found out, acl's are most commonly injured when you twist or pivot your knee. The result of a tear is often instability, which for Carol would mean no more heavy lifting and twisting, playing tennis or skiing. "I have to be outside, I have to be physical," says Richardson.

So to stay physical, Carol, who had just turned 60, had surgery to reconstruct her acl. But not long ago, she would not have been a candidate.
You see, the thought was that people over 50 or even 40 just weren't active enough to need an acl reconstruction. But Dr. Diane Dahm says that's not true anymore, and she proved it in a study at mayo clinic.

"What we found was that for patients over age 50, 86 percent of them were able to get back to their pre injury activities," says Dr. Diane Dahm.

During surgery, Dr. Dahm uses arthroscopic tools to reconstruct the acl with a tendon from another part of the leg or from a donor. "It will be as strong as the old one eventually," says Dahm.

Carol could walk a couple weeks after surgery, and she got the go ahead to resume all activities in about 6 months. "No tightness, no pain. I have full range of motion," says Richardson.

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