ACL – Reconstruction or Non-surgical

ACL (Anterior Cruciate Ligament) injuries are relatively common, often occurring during sports or physical activities. When someone tears their ACL, there are typically two primary approaches to consider: surgical and non-surgical treatments. There are risks with both forms of therapy. With the non-surgical, there is a higher degree that re-injury may occur if the appropriate rehabilitation has not taken place. With the surgical intervention you can have the graft union fail and there may also be inherent complications following surgery like infection which can delay healing and increase the recovery time.

Non-Surgical Intervention:

If the ACL tear is partial or the patient’s activity level is low, non-surgical treatment might be an option. This usually involves clinical rehabilitation and exercise to strengthen the surrounding muscles and improve stability. While this approach can work for some people, it may not be suitable for athletes or those with a more severe injury. At MD Health we treat varying degrees of ligament tears, and tailor every patient to a program that can address these weaknesses.

ACL Reconstruction Surgery:

ACL reconstruction surgery tends to be the most prevalent form for treatment, especially for people who want to return to high-impact activities. During this procedure, a surgeon replaces the torn ACL with a graft, often from the patient’s own hamstring or patellar tendon. Recovery and rehabilitation are typically required after the surgery to regain strength and flexibility. This is where a clinical exercise/pilates program is essential for the recovery process.

A recent study from the B.J of Sports Medicine Nov 2023  found that the MRI (magnetic resonance Imagining)  appearance of ACL healing after ACL rupture occurred in one in three adults. This shows that once you have ruptured your ACL, with the appropriate rehabilitation, you can get favourable outcomes without the focus being on surgery alone. There was potential for spontaneous healing of the ACL, therefore facilitating better clinical outcomes  than previously considered with surgery alone. The decision between surgery and non-surgical intervention depends on various factors, including the severity of the injury, the patient’s age, activity level, and their overall health.

The take home message in either case for surgical or non-surgical intervention is, that proper rehabilitation is essential to regain strength and function to the knee. It is imperative to follow the advice of the clinician at MD Health, as we are all trained to deal with your specific situation and guide you through the recovery process.

Do you have any questions?

  • Call us on (03) 9857 0644 or (07) 3505 1494 (Paddington)
  • Email us at admin@mdhealth.com.au
  • Check out our other blog posts here

Our clinical staff would be happy to have chat if you have any questions.


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