Does Undergoing ACL Reconstruction Surgery Help Your Knee in the Future?

ACL reconstruction surgery has been scientifically proven to provide more stability to your knee. This treatment option allows you to get back to your regular activities, sports and work responsibilities that may require twisting, turning and jumping.

While acl reconstruction surgery has proven to be a positive outcome to treat ACL tears, some patients decide against undergoing ACL reconstruction surgery for various reasons. This decision has sparked questions about the health of the knee over time. Do patients that undergo ACL reconstruction “protect” their knee from other future problems? Are they less likely to experience future meniscal tears, osteoarthritis, and subsequent pain?

ACL Reconstruction Surgery Research

The Mayo Clinic at Rochester, Minnesota, performed an ACL Reconstruction Surgery and Future Outcomesoutstanding study that was published in the July 2016 American Journal of Sports Medicine by Dr. Thomas Sanders. The researchers evaluated 509 patients that needed ACL reconstruction surgery.

Study participants were divided into two groups: 1) those treated with an early ACL reconstruction surgery less than a year following the injury, and 2) those that had a delayed ACL reconstruction.

From a total of 509 patients, 364 of these individuals were treated without surgery. The study spans from two months to 25 years following the initial ACL injury and treatment plan.

Researchers wanted to understand the outcomes for nonsurgical knee injury patients. They wanted to see if patients who avoided ACL reconstruction surgery had different outcomes. Did they develop more meniscal tears? Were they more likely to experience earlier onset osteoarthritis? Were their rates of total knee replacement higher? The study had an average follow-up time of 13.7 years.

Treating ACL Injuries – ACL Reconstruction Surgery Vs. Non-Surgical Treatments

Based on the study, researchers found that non-surgical ACL injury patients had more issues later on in life. These individuals had a significantly higher likelihood of developing a secondary meniscal tear. They were also more likely to be diagnosed with osteoarthritis and undergo total knee replacement surgery.

According to the research findings, patients treated with a delayed ACL reconstruction greater than one year after the injury, had a higher likelihood of developing a secondary meniscal tear. Compared to the patients treated with early ACL reconstruction, those with a delayed ACL reconstruction were also more likely to be diagnosed with osteoarthritis.

Researchers also looked at which risk factors played a role in articular cartilage damage, meniscal pathology, and the advancement of arthritis. And they found that patient age was a factor. If the patient was 22 years or older at the time of the injury, and had a delayed ACL reconstruction of greater than one year, they were at a much higher risk for articular cartilage damage, meniscal tears, and the early onset of osteoarthritis.

ACL Reconstruction Surgery Research Conclusion:

The researchers concluded that early ACL reconstruction surgery significantly reduces the risk of subsequent meniscal tears. It also reduces the likelihood of arthritis compared to delayed ACL reconstruction or conservative treatment for an ACL injury without surgery.

This information is very useful for young athletes and other individuals that are dealing with knee injuries. It’s important to seek medical treatment for your injuries and consider all of your treatment options.

Failure to properly treat signs of knee pain could increase your risk of developing more chronic knee problems with age. For more information about ACL reconstruction surgery or knee pain, call Dr. Grossfeld’s office today at 502-212-2663.