ACL Injury: Is Surgery Necessary?
Determining whether an ACL tear requires surgery depends on multiple factors. Some patients with ACL tears can resume regular activities without undergoing surgical reconstruction. Several crucial considerations determine the need for operative treatment for an ACL tear.
These factors comprise the patient’s age, activity level (both recreational and occupational), patient expectations, willingness to engage in postoperative rehabilitation, joint stability, and other associated knee injuries (such as ligamentous or meniscal problems).
More info: Post-ACL Rupture – Individual Considerations
ACL Reconstruction vs Exercise Management Surgical Approach for ACL Reconstruction
ACL reconstruction surgery typically occurs a few weeks after the injury. Studies show improved outcomes when delaying ACL reconstruction surgery by several weeks post-injury. This delay allows the inflamed knee to heal, reducing swelling, inflammation, and enhancing range of motion. Resolving swelling and stiffness before surgery contributes to better joint function after the procedure.
Can the ACL be Repaired?
ACL reconstruction surgery is common. However, it’s essential to note that a torn ACL cannot be repaired by simply reattaching the torn ends. Instead, the damaged ligament is replaced with a healthy graft or donor tissue. Recent research has shown that some ACLs rejoin themselves over time where the ligament tissues are in an optimal position, but this seems to occur only in a lucky few.
How is the ACL Reconstruction Performed?
The procedure for ACL reconstruction varies but often involves using a segment of a larger ligament or tendon to replace the torn ACL.
Graft options for ACL reconstruction include:
- Hamstring Tendons
- Patella Ligament
- Peroneus Longus Tendon
- Allograft (Donor Tissue)
ACL reconstruction surgery typically lasts 1 1/2 to 2 hours, depending on graft selection and any additional work within the knee joint. Your physiotherapist will guide your postoperative rehabilitation.
What to Do for a Ruptured ACL?
For an ACL tear, we strongly advise seeking professional medical care. Successful rehabilitation options vary based on your age, activity level, and the extent of your injury.