Commonly Asked Questions About Anterior Cruciate Ligament (ACL) Injury

Sep 19, 2019

  1. Can I treat and manage my ACL injury without surgery?Yes. Some patients may be able to treat the injury non-operatively and return to good function through physiotherapy/rehabilitation and being diligent with activity modifications. Provided the knee is stable for everyday activities of living, these patients may do well. It is strongly advised, however, that you give up on high impact, agility and side-stepping sports because of the high risk of knee instability and further injury. People that work in high-risk environments such as emergency services, the Military and in construction should be aware of the risks and consequences of further knee instability episodes. Non-operative management is not right for everyone and you should talk to your surgeon about the best option for you.

    Will an ACL injury cause knee arthritis?

    There is a higher risk of knee joint arthritis in patients with an ACL injury compared to the non-injured population. This risk is even greater if the ACL injury is associated with meniscal tears. The bulk of the medical literature shows that ACL reconstruction decreases the incidence of arthritis compared to non-operative management but does not completely eliminate the risk.

    Can I return to sport following ACL reconstruction?

    ACL reconstruction certainly improves knee stability and biomechanics compared to the ACL injured knee. Following a period of post-operative physiotherapy and rehabilitation, the majority of patients can return to a broad range of sports.

    What is the risk of further injury following my reconstruction?

    There is about a 10% risk of re-injury to the ACL graft upon return to high impact agility and side-stepping sports. There is about the same risk of ACL injury occurring on the other side.

    What is the role of physiotherapy following my reconstruction?

    Post-operative physiotherapy is very important in the ultimate outcome and return to sport following an ACL reconstruction. The physiotherapy program goes over a 6-12-month timeframe and your physiotherapist will introduce new exercises and activities as the graft heals. In the latter stages of your rehabilitation, your physiotherapist will take you through a program of neuromuscular re-training and sport-specific drills prior to you returning to your usual sports. This neuromuscular re-training has been shown to reduce the incidence of re-injury.