Causes and treatment for a torn ACL
Athletes come in all shapes, sizes and ages, and Dr. Sivaram Rajan, M.D., a board-certified orthopedic surgeon, has seen them all in his private practice in Hackensack. Whether it’s a high school football player with a knee injury, a frequent exerciser who has shoulder pain or an older patient in need of a hip replacement, Dr. Rajan can help get them back on the field or on the course again. “Not only are people more active now, but their expectations are high,” he says. “A high school athlete dedicated to one sport to people in their 80s who are living much more energetic lifestyles, all want to be in optimal shape.” As a specialist in arthroscopic surgery, Dr. Rajan focuses his practice on knee and shoulder repairs primarily from sports injuries, as well as total knee and hip replacements, utilizing minimally invasive techniques.
In his practice, Dr. Rajan uses an individualized approach: “I’m a solo practitioner so, along with my physician assistant and excellently trained staff, we take the time to answer every question and I perform every procedure myself,” he says. Dr. Rajan received his medical degree from Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine, then gained advanced training in minimally invasive arthroscopic knee and shoulder surgery, and total joint replacement while on a sports medicine fellowship at the University of Pennsylvania. He has been in private practice for 14 years, recently opening his state-of-the-art office in Hackensack.
One of the most common injuries he sees in young athletes is an anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) tear. A major stabilizing ligament in the knee, the ACL runs from the femur to the tibia and when the tear occurs a popping may be felt, followed by pain and swelling. Studies have shown that young female athletes are four to six times more likely to suffer from an ACL injury than male athletes and soccer is a leading cause of tears, along with basketball and lacrosse, even cheerleading. Tears may be caused by a sudden change in direction or cutting movements, and they don’t heal on their own, which is why ACL reconstruction is commonly performed. It is a same-day arthroscopic surgery, with small incisions and low instances of complications. Post-operative rehab is key to a successful recovery, which typically takes 6-9 months.
“Especially with young people, the repair has to be done,” says Dr. Rajan. “Without surgical repair, the knee will be unstable and can lead to further damage.” The good news is it is largely a very successful surgery. “Patients do well and are generally able to go back to playing competitive sports at a high level,” he says. “It’s a very reliable operation.”