The ACL Ligament

Damien Moore (Physiotherapist – Burnie)

Why we should be changing our beliefs on how ACL injuries should be managed.

(Adapted from Kieran Richardson’s blogs on linkedin Nov 21st 2017, Dec 10th 2018 and May 6th 2019)

Image result for pictures acl injury

(Source – physioworks.com.au)

Anterior cruciate ligament injuries are regularly reported in the media as devastating to the patient suffering the injury, due in part to the likely decision of undergoing surgical reconstruction followed by a minimum 9-12 months of rehabilitation prior to returning to sport.

Image result for pictures acl injury

(Source – drjohnrusin.com)

Recent high quality research is challenging the notion that a reconstruction is required to prevent arthritis, restore stability and facilitate a return to sport and activity. The highest quality of trials comparing ACL reconstruction versus conservative management including physiotherapy and exercise showed no significant differences between the groups in pain symptoms, function in sports and recreation, return to pre-injury activity level, radiographic osteoarthritis and meniscus surgery between the groups. Regardless of treatment, poor physical performance at the end of rehabilitation predicted worse patient-reported outcomes at two and five years, further stressing the importance of exercise as key in the management of these injuries.

Structured rehabilitation involving physiotherapy and exercise rather than early surgery has the same goals and outcomes as a typical post-operative protocol including an expectation of return to high-level function. Timelines to recovery could be expected to be shorter given there is no requirement to protect a transplanted graft with non-surgical rehabilitation based on the patient’s functional impairments and progression as well as symptoms such as pain and reported episodes of ‘giving way’.

So if you have an ACL injury, get the best advice and start your rehabilitation journey today by consulting one of our experienced practitioners – for an appointment today call us at Coastal Physiotherapy on 64314586.