Treatment of an ACL tear is either operative or non- operative and depends on several variables including presence of other injuries, patient age, patient activity level and the ability of the patient to participate in a postoperative rehabilitation program. Older or more sedentary patients and those willing to forego certain activities and sports may be candidates for non-operative treatment. Patients who wish to return to sports that require running, jumping, cutting and pivoting movements require surgical reconstruction. Patients who choose to return to sports without surgical reconstruction of the ACL risk further damage to the knee. Surgery is usually performed under general anesthesia on an outpatient basis. Many choices exist for ACL grafts including autografts (from the patient) and allografts (from a cadaver donor).
The patellar tendon, hamstring tendons and the quadriceps tendon have all been used with success. Commonly, tunnels are created in the femur and tibia and the graft is stabilized in the tunnels using various fixation methods. Postoperative physical therapy is necessary to regain knee range of motion and restore muscle strength. A period of restriction from sports and other heavy activities is advised to allow graft healing. To properly diagnose and treat a knee injury, an evaluation by an orthopedic surgeon is necessary.