Conservative Treatment of an ACL Tear
In the last few years, research has been published challenging the commonly held belief that every ACL tear should have surgery. In our prior blog posts we have detailed the research studies showing Physical Therapy can prevent the need for ACL surgery among young, healthy adults. Many of these patients are called "copers" due to their ability to cope without an ACL. In fact, these patients are not alone and many athletes including NFL players Hines Ward and Thurman Thomas have played successfully without an ACL. A recent research article supports the use of conservative treatment for patients with an ACL tear.
303 patients with a unilateral ACL tear underwent conservative treatment including Physical Therapy and were followed up to 27 years after the surgery (Konrads et al. Int Ortho. 2016). The authors measured subjective report of function as well as x rays in each patient. The authors reported that 90% of patients rated their ACL deficient knee as normal or almost normal at the 27 year follow up. This study highlights the importance of identifying patients, copers, who do not require ACL reconstruction after an ACL tear.