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Why may I need ACL surgery?

Dr. Scott D. Martin, MD
Orthopedic Surgeon

Although the anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) cannot heal, one in three people can regain enough strength in the knee to return to nondemanding activities without surgery. But this isn't easy. It may require a year of rehabilitation before muscles are strong enough to compensate for the loss of ACL-provided stability. Even so, your knee may sometimes pop out of joint. Your doctor may suggest an ACL brace to use during occasional strenuous activity. If you wish to return to activities involving jumping and pivoting, you will probably need surgery.

To determine whether you should have surgery, you and your doctor will need to consider your age, your activities, how unstable your knee is, whether your ACL is partially or completely torn, and other injuries. Patients who undergo ACL reconstruction surgery have long-term success rates of 82% to 95%. However, the reconstructed ACL fails or becomes unstable in about 8% of cases.

You may need anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) surgery if you have an ACL tear because ACL tears do not heal. If you want to stay active, if you want to continue to do running and jumping and cutting activities, the ACL tear needs to be repaired and reconstructed surgically.

Trinity Health is a Catholic health care organization that acts in accordance with the Catholic tradition and does not condone or support all practices covered in this site. In case of emergency call 911. This site is educational and not a substitute for professional medical advice, always seek the advice of a qualified health care provider.

Whether or not someone may need ACL surgery depends on the patient’s function and the stability of their knee.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.