Is it Risky to Leave ACL Tears Untreated?

Is it Risky to Leave ACL Tears Untreated?

The anterior cruciate ligament is a component of the four most important ligaments in the knee. It is responsible for the stability and support to the knee joint and for keeping the shinbone in place concerning the thigh bone. If the ACL is not intact, the stability in the knee is compromised and there is a sense of the knee giving in or buckling. A person whose ACL is injured is unable to land on the knee, jump, run, or even walk if the injury is severe. 

The anterior cruciate ligament is quite vulnerable to injuries when it comes to sportsmen and athletes. It is especially common in sports that involve a considerable amount of leg planting and pivoting like soccer, skiing, football, hockey, basketball, etc.

Who is prone to ACL tears?

People from all walks of life, physical conditions, and ages can be at risk of ACL injuries. However, it is more commonly seen that women suffer from ACL tears as compared to men. This is because women’s biomechanics tend to put more stress on their knees while walking and during daily activities. 

It is also commonly seen that children and teenagers are more prone to these injuries because of youth sports and their increasing competitiveness.

Causes and Symptoms of ACL tears

Movements that involve a sudden twisting motion, change in direction, pivoting or landing can cause a partial or complete ACL tear. Apart from that, a sudden high-energy impact or a blunt force trauma can also cause an ACL tear. These tears are usually accompanied by injuries to the surrounding tissues, ligaments, or cartilages in the knee.

The immediate and ensuing symptoms of an ACL tear vary based on the intensity of the trauma, stretch, or the age of the person. Some of the most common symptoms experienced by people in almost all cases are listed below.

  • A “popping” sound
  • Pain
  • Swelling
  • Inflammation
  • Immobility of the knee and leg
  • Instability of the knee

Treatment of ACL tears

Technically, an ACL tear cannot be treated without surgery because the ligament does not have self-healing or regenerative properties. However, in some cases when the tear is very mild, physiotherapy, exercises, and Rehabilitation may help in reducing the pain and inflammation. Some people have to use a leg brace for a while. 

But the long-term outcome of non-surgical treatments varies from people and the degree of damage. Because the ACL cannot heal itself with the help of rehabilitation and physiotherapy, it is very difficult to go back to unrestricted activity after non-surgical treatment. In the absence of an intact ACL, regular tasks like walking, standing, or climbing stairs become highly painful.

ACL Reconstruction Surgery: A successful treatment option

To successfully treat ACL injuries, ACL reconstruction surgery has become a commonly performed procedure. The surgery uses a tendon graft, which can be taken from the patient’s tendon. ACL Reconstruction Surgery avoids large, painful incisions to the knee, offers a quick recovery and a successful cure for a damaged ACL.

Why choose ACL Reconstruction Surgery?

The ACL reconstruction surgery involves replacing the damaged ligament with a healthier one. This offers the best chance of restoring normal knee functioning, mobility, and stability. It allows people to return to other physical activities and sports at the earliest. 

The primary benefits of ACL reconstruction surgery are listed below. 

  • Restoration of the full stability and mobility of the knee.
  • A high success rate of 80 to 95 percent. 
  • Avoiding and eliminating the chances of osteoarthritis.
  • Higher chance of returning to intensive and unrestricted physical activities.

Why is it risky to leave ACL tears untreated?

In the absence of an intact and healthy anterior cruciate ligament, even if the injury is not major, there is always a risk that an untreated ACL will develop into a worse condition with time. Some possible complications of an untreated ACL are listed below: 

  • Risk of further damage: The cartilage pads of the knee are prone to damage if the ACL is not treated properly.
  • Increased pain and swelling: The pain, swelling, and inflammation in the knee will only increase if an ACL injury does not get proper medical attention.
  • Risk of osteoarthritis: Cartilage pads which are damaged by prolonged ACL tears sharply increase the risk of osteoarthritis in the future.
  • Limited range of movement: Because the ACL is one of the most important ligaments in the knee, any damage to it will not allow the knee and leg to move freely.
  • Instability in the knee: Your knee will not be able to bear any weight and will feel unstable if the ACL damage is not repaired successfully.

The decision of whether you should have surgical or non-surgical treatment for ACL injuries is crucial and difficult to make. You should discuss your options and condition before choosing with your doctor. At Pristyn Care, you will find the advice that is in your best interest and the treatment program will be tailored according to your needs. Book an appointment now, and regain the mobility and health of your knee at the earliest. 

Edward Powell