ACL Reconstruction in Older Athletes

ACL injuries are on the rise across the United States as more individuals participate in athletic activities.  As described in prior posts, the majority of these ligament injuries do not involve contact but rather occur with deceleration and directional changes in sports.   Athletes with decreased strength, balance, and coordination are unable to dissipate forces placing greater loads on their knee ligaments.  One segment of the population at risk of ligamentous injury due to these factors includes “weekend warrior” athletes over the age of 40. 

The necessity of repairing a torn ACL injury in these older athletes is debatable with many patients able to return to activity, albeit often at a lower level, with conservative treatments alone.  A recent review article examined the outcomes associated with ACL repair among athletes >40 years old.  Mall and colleagues analyzed the results of 452 patients (average age 48) who underwent ACL repair (Sports Health. 2016).  The authors reported few complications and a low failure rate among this population along with A or B outcomes in >80% of patients. 

The results of this review suggest ACL repair combined with post operative Physical Therapy is a safe and effective alternative for patients with ACL tears.