Leading to instability of the knee, Anterior Cruciate Ligament (ACL) ruptures are common, occurring in around 1 in every 3000 people. Treatment for an ACL injury will ultimately depend upon the severity of the rupture and its symptoms.
Patients typically have two options – surgery and rehabilitation. So, which is better? A new study has aimed to answer that question, analysing the two options. Here, we will look at what the study revealed.
Surgery is clinically superior to rehabilitation
The new randomised controlled, multi-centre, pragmatic study assessed patients from 29 secondary care National Health Service units across the UK. Only patients who experienced instability consistent with an ACL injury were recruited. Those who required immediate surgery were left out of the research.
A computer randomly assigned eligible participants into either a surgical or rehabilitation group. In total, there were 156 patients assigned to surgical reconstruction, and 160 patients assigned to rehabilitation. Out of those who were scheduled for surgery, 48 did not receive treatment. Meanwhile, 65 patients who were assigned rehabilitation went on to undergo surgery within 18 months.
This showed surgery was clinically superior to rehabilitation, as well as being more cost effective in the long-term.
Is a surgical approach right for everyone?
Although this new study shows that surgery does tend to be the superior option, that doesn’t mean it is right for everyone. Surgery is typically required when there is instability of the knee. If instability doesn’t occur, non-surgical techniques could be the better option.
It is important to treat ACL injuries on a patient-by-patient basis. Surgery may not be the right option for you, but this will be determined during your consultation. Several factors will be assessed such as the severity of the ACL injury, your age, overall health, and the symptoms you are experiencing.
What is an ACL injury?
An ACL injury is the second most common knee ligament injury treated by orthopaedic surgeons. Women are known to be three times more likely to develop this type of injury than men, and it largely occurs in those who play contact sports, or who partake in downhill skiing.
If left untreated, patients can go on to develop a torn cartilage/meniscus. It also increases the risk of developing arthritis of the knee due to instability. Symptoms of an ACL injury include:
- A snap or pop sound when the injury occurs
- Immediate swelling
- Restricted mobility
- Sudden pain
If you experience any of these symptoms, it could be a sign of an ACL injury. Undergoing a diagnosis with a healthcare professional is the only way to know for sure what type of injury you are dealing with.
The best course of treatment does tend to be a surgical approach to repair the tear. However, this will depend upon your individual circumstances. Book a consultation with Mr Jonathon Webb now for an assessment and to determine the best course of treatment.