Does An ACL Injury Require Surgery?

Anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) injuries are common, making up 40% of all knee injuries in sports. People who play sports like soccer, football, and basketball are especially at risk. These injuries can be debilitating, causing knee instability, limiting movement, and affecting performance. Although most ACL injuries require surgery, some patients see progress with non-surgical treatment.


An important ligament

The anterior cruciate ligament is crucial to stabilizing the knee. The ligament is a strong band of connective tissue that starts at the tibia and ends at the femur. The ACL and the posterior cruciate ligament (PCL), another important ligament, cross to make an X, allowing the knee to flex and extend. Without the ACL, the tibia can move too far forward, and the knee loses stability.

Non-surgical management

Cases of partial tears or mild injuries can be managed without surgery. The most essential part of this approach is rehabilitation and physical therapy (PT), which help strengthen and stabilize the knee. Physical therapists work closely with patients to improve range of motion (ROM), strengthen the surrounding muscles, and restore knee function. Targeted exercises and massage are commonly used. Bracing or knee support devices can help the injured knee stay stable and protect from further injury, which also helps the knee heal. The non-surgical management of ACL injuries must include close clinical follow-up and ongoing PT lasting several months.

Considering surgical repair

When deciding whether to pursue surgery, the medical team must assess the patient's activity level, injury degree, and instability symptoms. A highly active person, for instance, may benefit more from surgical intervention to restore knee function and allow for a quick return to sport. If the ACL is completely torn, the knee joint may need surgical reconstruction. Surgery can help fix instability and lower the risk of further damage and future osteoarthritis in people who do intense physical work.

Make the right choice

Deciding on ACL surgery is a major decision. With the guidance of a surgeon or medical specialist, the decision is easier. A stretched or partial ligament tear can heal with the help of PT, pain management, and regenerative medicine. Managing more minor ACL injuries non-surgically can take time, but this approach can produce excellent results. However, a complete tear will need surgery, especially if the patient wants to return to specific activities. Surgery can be done with minimally invasive means, reducing pain and the recovery timeline. Choose the right approach based on the circumstance for a stronger knee.

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