If you’ve injured a ligament, you’ll need to stop putting weight on the area so it can rest and begin the healing process. Healthcare providers will also recommend ice, compression and elevation, along with medications. Physical therapy or rehabilitation may also help injuries when surgery isn’t deemed necessary.
If you and your provider decide that the location or the severity of the ligament damage warrants surgery, you’ll need to prepare by following all presurgical instructions, which may include discontinuing certain medications that can make your blood less likely to clot. Tell your doctor what medications you currently take, including any herbal supplements or vitamins, so the provider can determine if it’s safe to continue taking them.
During ligament surgery, you’ll be given anesthesia that will allow you to sleep and experience less pain during the procedure. Once you’re asleep, the surgeon will access the area — using minimally invasive techniques whenever possible — and repair or replace the ligament. A ligament replacement can be performed using an autograft (a ligament transferred from somewhere else in your own body) or an allograft (transferred from a donor or a cadaver).
After the surgery is complete, you’ll recover from the anesthesia in a post-anesthesia care unit or another room in the hospital. Depending on the surgery, some patients may be admitted to the hospital to begin the recovery process there. If your reconstruction was an outpatient procedure, you’ll stay in the hospital for a few hours before returning home.
After your ligament reconstruction, you’ll need to allow the area to rest, and you should refrain from activities that are not approved by your physician. You may require physical therapy, particularly if the reconstruction was to the knee, and you will have to wear a brace to keep the ligament stable as it recovers. Your physician will let you know when it’s safe to resume regular activities.