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Knee Injury News - ACL Tears

Your ACL - anterior cruciate ligament - is a major ligament in your knee. Most people used to have ACL reconstruction surgery as soon as possible. We thought that was best. New studies say you should wait and at least have physical therapy first and maybe no surgery at all.

Old Recommendation - Surgery Right Away

Chris had his ACL repaired as soon as he could when he tore it 12 years ago even though

  • his knee didn't give out

  • he refereed a lacrosse game the day before his surgery

  • he knew from research studies the hurt knee was going to get arthritis anyway

Now It's Better to Delay ACL Surgery

There is new information. A major new study looked at how people were doing 5 years AFTER an ACL tear. The compared 3 groups:

1. One group has surgery right away and then physical therapy

2. The second group had physical therapy first, delaying surgery

3. The third group just had physical therapy

The Surprising Results

5 Years later people that:

  • had immediate surgery did worse.

  • only had PT did better.

  • delayed surgery until after PT did better.

An Even Bigger Surprise

  • People that had cartilage damage did even worse if they had immediate surgery.

  • People with cartilage damage and an ACL tear that did therapy first before surgery did better.

ACL Tear - No Surgery - No Problem

They resume all activity without ACL surgery. These people are called "Copers." A lot of studies have been done to figure out how to turn everyone that tears their ACL into a "Coper."

The new study which shows that those that delay or skip surgery do just as well may indicate that everyone cane become a "Coper."

New Recommendation

If Chris knew then what he knows now, he would not have had ACL least not right away, and maybe not at all.

His knee was stable. He could run and turn. His knee didn't give out - at least not refereeing a lacrosse game. He would have tried to rehab it and see how he did. Maybe he was or would have been a "coper."


Christopher DiPasquale, PhD, PT, OCS, SCS, CHT is a physical therapist at Performance Physical Therapy & Sports Medicine with offices in Hebron and Colchester, Connecticut. He is board certified by the American Board of Physical Therapy Specialties in Orthopedic Physical Therapy and Sports Physical Therapy and a Certified Hand Therapist by the Hand Therapy Certification Committee.

For more information visit or call the office: Colchester 860-537-3014 or Hebron 860-228-4883

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