The Oh So Very Stubborn Anterior Cruciate Ligament

This entry was posted by Saturday, 23 January, 2010
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Was this necessary?

Orthopedic Surgery: Knee.

Have you ever heard the term “Anterior Cruciate Ligament?”

I sure hope not.

It’s one part of the most complicated thing in the world – probably the most complicated thing in the whole UNIVERSE – the knee. And when the ACL gets ripped, it really HURTS!

Normally, it doesn’t get much better on its own – especially a major tear. Which means you get to make a visit to MISTER Orthopedic Surgeon.

Whee!

Surgical repair of the ACL is a common procedure and, with a little cooperation on your part and a bit of luck, it usually works pretty well. But it’ll cost you in the long run since your chances of arthritis later in life bump up significantly.

The interesting thing about all this is WHY the thing doesn’t get better on its own. Some parts of our body (luckily) do. Other parts don’t.

So that’s the question for our time. What’s it take to get the things that DON’T heal to change their ways?

Dr. Martha Murray (Children’s Hospital, Boston) has been puzzling out this very thing with respect to the Anterior Cruciate Ligament.

No big announcements. Just slogging through the science. But, so far, she has figured out that fibrin – the stuff that makes blood clot and which plays a role in repair of other tissues (including bones) – doesn’t seem to last long enough at the injury site – an important clue which may lead to techniques for enhancing the fibrin around the ligament.

Anyway, this is just a report on a work in progress but one that is so representative of the many efforts throughout medicine to learn how to teach the body to heal in new ways.

ScienceAintSoBadRating = 5 . Still early days.


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