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ACL Injuries – conservative or surgical management?

ACL Injuries

An anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) rupture in the knee can be a disastrous injury for sports people and active individuals.
A common question our physiotherapists get asked following an ACL injury, is “should I have surgery or not?”.

Surgical Management of ACL
Knee reconstruction surgery involves the use of a tendon graft (often taken from the hamstring or patella tendon) to replace the torn ACL. It involves a lengthy physio rehabilitation (9-12 months) as well as the risks associated with surgery.

Conservative Management of ACL

Conservative or non-surgical management involves physiotherapy and exercises to improve strength, movement and proprioception/balance. The extent of this will depend on the individuals’ goals and whether they want to return to sport.

Return to Sport
There have been many cases of athletes returning to competition at the highest level after an ACL injury where they did not undergo surgery. This means that even without an ACL, a return to sport is still possible and does lead us to question whether surgery is in fact necessary. Research also shows similar outcomes between conservative versus surgical management of ACL injuries.

There are many considerations when deciding whether to have surgery or not, including whether you want to return to sport, what sport you want to return to and at what level, injury history, age and many other factors. Many patients we see at Seville Health tend to trial a period of conservative management first, and if they continue to have issues or show signs of instability in the knee, they may then continue on to surgery.

Regardless of whether you undergo surgical or conservative management, physiotherapy will form a big part of your rehabilitation following ACL injury. To discuss and assess your individual situation contact our physios today.