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ACL injuries: do they need surgery?

Anterior cruciate ligament (ACL)

The ACL acts to provide stability to the knee in all ranges of motion. ACL injuries are amongst the most common acute knee injuries in athletes. Surgery has been the mainstay of treating ACL ruptures for many years.

So, do all ACl ruptures need surgery?

The short answer? NO

Not all ACL injuries are the same and recent research suggests you may now have options in treating them. Over 50% of torn ACL’s have been shown to spontaneously heal without surgery. Using the new Cross bracing protocol, up to 90% of ACL’s may show healing after 12 weeks. Of course, the results of healing will vary from person to person.

Can you manage without an ACL?

The ACL may not need to be repaired or heal, to have good outcomes. Some research has shown that after long-term follow ups, those who had ACL surgery showed similar outcomes to those who did rehabilitation alone. After rehabilitation many can maintain high levels of functional strength and stability. In, fact there are many examples of professional athletes performing for years without an intact ACL.


Some individuals may need to have their ACL surgically repaired. You do have options in management, but this should be something discussed with your Physio, Doctor and Surgeon to help you make an informed decision.

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