Dear Doctor: ACL Injuries

Dear Doctor:
My daughter’s friend tore the ACL in her knee playing soccer. She is planning to have a surgery to replace it. Is this necessary?

Dear Reader:
ACL stands for anterior cruciate ligament, and it is one of two large ligaments within the knee. The ACL provides important stability to the knee during many athletic activities with the exception of straight line walking or jogging. Unfortunately, this ligament is often injured during sports, and female athletes in particular are more likely to injure their ACLs than their male counterparts. The best management for an ACL tear is to prevent it from occurring using a preseason training program to improve the mechanics of jumping and landing. These programs have been proven to strengthen muscles in the hip and knee which helps to reduce stress on knee ligaments during sports.

When necessary, an ACL tear is best managed with a surgical reconstruction in those patients who would like to continue doing athletic activities (football, soccer, volleyball, etc). Continuing to participate in these types of activities without reconstruction could lead to additional injuries within the knee including cartilage and meniscal injuries. There are several options for the type of ACL reconstruction that can be performed, and the treating surgeon will discuss available options for each patient. Reconstruction surgery is very successful in most patients and can allow a return to sports in 9 to 12 months.

Terence D. Anderson, M.D., is an orthopedist with UT Physicians and an assistant professor at McGovern Medical School at The University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston (UTHealth). To schedule an appointment at a UT Physicians Orthopedics clinic in the Katy area, call 888-4UT-DOCS.

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