An ACL tear is a serious knee injury that can significantly impact an individual’s quality of life. When the ACL is torn, it can cause significant pain, swelling, and instability in the knee joint. Often the first thought is do I need surgery to return to normal functioning, and the answer isn’t so simple.
Wondering what the ACL is?
Here is a list of things to consider when making the decision. Ultimately, the decision comes down to function, quality of life and suggestions from your surgeon.
In some cases, surgical intervention may be necessary to repair or reconstruct the torn ACL. While surgery can be an effective way to restore knee stability and function, it is not without risks and potential drawbacks. In this blog, we will discuss the pros and cons of surgical intervention for an ACL tear.
Pros of Surgical Intervention for an ACL Tear
1. Improved Knee Stability and Function
The primary benefit of surgical intervention for an ACL tear is the restoration of knee stability and function. The surgery involves repairing or reconstructing the torn ligament, which can improve knee stability and prevent future episodes of instability.
2. Reduced Risk of Secondary Injuries
Another benefit of surgery is the reduced risk of secondary injuries. When the ACL is torn, it can cause damage to other structures in the knee joint, such as the meniscus or articular cartilage. Surgery can help prevent these secondary injuries from occurring or worsening.
3. Faster Return to Sports and Activities
Individuals who undergo surgery for an ACL tear may be able to return to sports and activities more quickly than those who do not. Physical therapy and rehabilitation are critical components of recovery, and surgery can help ensure a more complete recovery and faster return to activities.
Cons of Surgical Intervention for an ACL Tear
4. Potential for Complications
As with any surgery, there is a risk of complications associated with ACL surgery. These can include infection, blood clots, nerve damage, and anesthesia-related complications.
5. Longer Recovery Time
While surgery can help speed up the recovery process, it still requires a significant amount of time and effort. Recovery from ACL surgery can take several months, and individuals may need to modify their activities or wear a brace during this time.
Although ACL surgery is covered, an average person needs 12-14 months of continued rehabilitation to return to full function. Although rehabilitation is still needed in non-surgical options, it most likely will not be as intense and will not include as many sessions.
7. Potential for Failure
Finally, there is a risk that the surgical intervention may not be successful. While surgery can improve knee stability and function, it may not completely eliminate the risk of future injuries or instability.
In conclusion, surgical intervention can be an effective way to restore knee stability and function after an ACL tear. However, it is important for individuals to carefully consider the risks and potential drawbacks of surgery before making a decision. A comprehensive evaluation by a physician and discussion with the healthcare team, including a kinesiologist/athletic therapist, can help guide the decision-making process.
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Smith, M. K., & Kim, S. H. (2016). ACL tears: an update on management. Journal of the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons, 24(12), 837-847.
Lohmander, L. S., & Roos, H. (2017). The knee injury and osteoarthritis outcome score (KOOS): from joint injury to osteoarthritis. Health and quality of life outcomes, 15(1), 1-8.
Nagelli, C. V., & Hewett, T. E. (2017). Should return to sport be delayed until 2 years after anterior cruciate ligament reconstruction? Biological and functional considerations. Sports medicine, 47(2), 221-232