Even a very small tear in the anterior cruciate ligament will not repair itself. The ligament does not regenerate like some other tissues do. Ligaments tend to form scar tissue. The extent of the scar tissue depends on the size of the tear in the ACL.
The swelling of the knee that usually accompanies any ACL tear will disappear with time. The swelling will reappear when pressure is put on the damaged part of the ACL before scar tissue formation is complete. The instability of the knee will continue to be a problem as well. Treatment offers relief from swelling and instability.
The major problem for people with a small ACL tear is that the scar tissue that forms produces a reduced level of function. The loss of function becomes more severe if the tear is larger. The scar tissue can prevent a person from enjoying a sport they love. An ACL tear can force a gainfully employed person to go on the dole.
The toll that even a small ACL tear takes on a person’s life depends on several factors. Older people can be more physically impacted by an ACL tear than younger people. Part of the reason is that the body’s natural healing factors are not produced as much in older people.
A small ACL tear that is not treated can end the career of a profession athlete. The same thing can happen to a person who plays soccer or rugby on the weekends. An avid golfer can see an abrupt end to their golfing forever. A person’s present activity level and their plans for future activity are a consideration when deciding on a treatment.
An ACL tear is serious. Leaving a small ACL tear untreated can produce excruciating pain. A person will eventually become unable to stand and walk for any normal period of time.
The best solution for a small ACL tear is treatment. Treatment avoids surgery. Treatment costs less than surgery. Treatment will not repair a torn ACL but it will produce effective methods to overcome the impact that scar tissue has on knee function.
The first step in treatment is examination. The extent of the ACL tear must be determined precisely. X-ray, MRI, and CT scans give expert physicians a picture of the damage that exists. A treatment plan can be developed from the evidence.
An ACL tear causes pain. The pain can be very intense. Some ACL tears may require a pain medication initially. Pain medications are used with care. A person who feels no pain may be too active and cause themselves more injury. Addiction is a major problem that must be avoided.
The majority of people who have an ACL tear are surprised to learn that the best treatment is movement. Studies in Britain, Sweden, and the United States that compared physiotherapy and surgery showed that the results were the same after five years. The advantage of physiotherapy is a faster recovery time and less chance of injury.
The success rate for physiotherapy is considered to be 60 percent. This means that 60 percent of the people who use physiotherapy as the first treatment never have to have ACL surgery.
One must understand that the tear has become scar tissue. There is a potential for new damage to occur. Braces for the knee that are designed for a patient’s favorite recreational sport or their work help prevent new injuries. Braces also allow the person to enjoy their “old” life after an ACL tear.
Get more information about how to deal with an ACL tear successfully without surgery at KUER Physio Harley Street.