The diagnosis is in, and you’ve torn your ACL.

You immediately start making plans for surgery, but then someone asks you, “Does an ACL tear really require surgery?”

You start to respond, “Of course it requires surgery,” but then you stop and realize you’re actually not sure.

Thanks to Dr. Shoeb Mohiuddin and the expert team at Regenerative Pain & Spine, we can have a definitive answer to this question, and the answer is … it depends.

What is an ACL tear?

Your knee is one of the largest and most important joints in your body. It bears all your weight and stands up to years of walking and running. The ACL, or anterior cruciate ligament, runs diagonally across the middle of your knee. It provides stability to your knee, especially when you’re turning or cutting.

Between 100,000 and 200,000 sprains and tears of the ACL occur every year in the United States. Most injuries occur in sports such as basketball, football, soccer, or skiing, where a lot of cutting, planting, and turning takes place.

Your treatment will depend on the level of injury you have. In a Grade 1 injury, the ligament is stretched, but can still keep the knee stable. In a Grade 2 injury, the ligament is stretched so much it becomes loose; this can also be a partial tear. A Grade 3 injury is a complete tear, where the ligament has been torn in half or pulled off the bone, leaving your knee very unstable.

What’s does ACL treatment look like?

Treatment for an ACL tear depends on the severity of the injury and the patient’s goals for recovery. Tears can be treated with physical therapy to strengthen the muscles around the knee to compensate for the lack of stability from the ACL. Braces can also offer support in cases like this.

This nonsurgical option usually only works if the tear is minor and the knee shows no instability, or if the tear is complete and the instability is low. In cases like this, the patient is usually older and/or willing to give up any high-demand sports while living a sedentary lifestyle.

In most cases where the ACL tear is complete, surgery is the only option for the patient to recover to their former levels of fitness, stability, and strength.

ACL reconstruction surgery is usually done arthroscopically as the torn ligament is replaced with a tissue graft. The patient then undergoes an intense regimen of physical therapy to return back to normal.

If you have an ACL tear and would like an opinion on the best treatment, the team at Regenerative Pain & Spine is here to help. To schedule an appointment at one of our four Chicago-area offices, just call the location nearest you or use the online schedulers to book the best appointment time for you!

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