ACL tears – Do all ACL tears require surgery?

An ACL tear is one of the most common knee injuries to occur and can be classified as a
partial tear (2nd degree) or complete tear (3rd degree).
The ACL is one of the four main ligaments within the knee that connects the femur (thigh
bone) to the tibia (shin bone). A healthy ACL ensures normal movement of the knee joint,
providing rotational stability and prevents the tibia from sliding out in front of the femur.

ACL tear: when is surgery required?

The need for surgery is mainly determined based on the level of instability in the knee, the
demand of lifestyle, work duties and skeletal maturity.
Surgery is generally recommended for those who have:

  • An active lifestyle – if your lifestyle requires your knee to do sharp, fast movements,
    or carry heavy weights e.g. competitive sports players who require a strong, stable
    knee for sport activities.
  • A physically demanding job – those with work duties including lifting heavy objects,
    long laborious hours on the feet, constant kneeling may benefit from surgery.
  • Open growth plates – growth plates are cartilaginous discs found within long bones
    which are responsible for bone growth. Young children and adolescents undergoing
    early ACL reconstruction may increase risk of growth plate injury. ACL surgery may
    be delayed until the child is closer to skeletal maturity, reducing the risk of bone
    growth problems. Alternatively, the surgeon may modify the surgery technique to
    accommodate to this.

As a result, not all ACL tears require surgery.

ACL tear: what are the non-surgical option

Alternatively, there are safe and effective non-surgical treatment options. These consist of a
progressive physical rehabilitation program that will focus on improving stability, mobility
and strength of the knee. Individualised physical therapy can restore the knee close to its
pre-injury levels and lower the risk of re-injury. Ongoing exercise can benefit

If you suffer an ACL injury, it is recommend you seek medical care immediately regardless of
the grade of your sprain. Medical advice should be followed as each person’s mechanism
and severity of injury will be different.

Our team is able to evaluate your injury and provide you with the best course of treatment. Get in touch today!

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