Exploring ACL treatment options

so you have injured your acl, now you need to know what to do. Let’s explore treatment options together.

Do i need surgery?

One of the most pressing questions following an ACL (anterior cruciate ligament) injury is whether surgery is necessary. While every case is unique, understanding the factors involved can help you make an informed decision about your treatment.

An ACL injury can occur during sports activities, exercise, or even everyday movements. When the ACL is damaged, it can lead to instability and limited mobility in the knee joint. Prompt assessment and appropriate treatment are crucial for a successful recovery.

Weighing options

The decision to undergo ACL surgery depends on various factors, including the severity of the injury, the individual’s activity level and goals, and the presence of multiple injuries such as an LCL MCL alongside ACL injury . While surgical intervention is often recommended for complete ACL tears and cases involving significant instability, it may not be the only option for everyone.

 Conservative Treatment:
In some cases, a conservative approach may be considered. This typically involves a comprehensive rehabilitation program guided by a skilled Practitioner. Conservative treatment focuses on strengthening the surrounding muscles, improving range of motion, and enhancing knee stability through targeted exercises and functional training. It is important to note that while conservative treatment can be effective for certain individuals, it may not provide the same level of stability and long-term outcomes as surgery.

Surgical Intervention:
ACL reconstruction surgery involves replacing the damaged ligament with a graft (our guide on grafts), typically sourced from the patient’s own tissue (autograft) or a donor tissue (allograft). The procedure aims to restore stability, reduce the risk of further damage, and enable a return to pre-injury levels of activity. Surgical treatment is often recommended for individuals who experience persistent knee instability, participate in high-demand sports, or have specific occupational requirements that necessitate a stable knee joint.

Risks of not having surgery

Opting against ACL surgery comes with potential risks and considerations. Without surgical intervention, the knee joint may remain unstable, leading to recurrent episodes of giving way, limited participation in sports or physical activities, and an increased risk of further knee injuries. Additionally, long-term instability may contribute to the development of osteoarthritis in the affected knee.

It is essential to discuss these risks with your healthcare provider and thoroughly evaluate how they may impact your desired lifestyle, future goals, and overall knee health.

How long will I need to recover and carry out physiotherapy?

Recovery and rehabilitation after ACL surgery are typically a multi-phased process that requires patience and commitment. The duration of the recovery period varies depending on various factors, including the surgical technique, individual healing capacity, and adherence to rehabilitation protocols.

Generally, the initial phase of recovery focuses on managing pain and swelling, restoring range of motion, and gradually reintroducing weight-bearing activities. This phase may last for several weeks, and crutches or a knee brace may be necessary during this time.

Subsequent phases involve progressive strengthening exercises, balance training, and functional activities to regain knee stability, muscle strength, and coordination. Physical therapy plays a vital role in guiding the recovery process, monitoring progress, and customising the treatment plan to meet individual needs.

The complete recovery timeline can vary, but most individuals can expect a comprehensive rehabilitation period of six to nine months or longer before returning to pre-injury levels of activity. It is crucial to work closely with your physical therapist to ensure a safe and successful recovery journey.


The end goal if you have surgery

 For individuals who opt for ACL surgery, the ultimate goal is to achieve a stable knee joint and return to their desired level of physical activity. ACL reconstruction aims to restore knee stability, reduce symptoms of instability, and provide the opportunity to engage in sports and other demanding activities with confidence.

While the surgery itself is a significant step, it is important to remember that full recovery and a successful return to activity require diligent adherence to the rehabilitation program, consistent follow-up with healthcare providers, and gradual progression based on individual milestones and guidance from the medical team.



Deciding whether to pursue surgery for an ACL injury is a personal choice that depends on multiple factors. Consulting with an orthopaedic specialist is crucial to evaluate the severity of the injury, understand individual goals and lifestyle, and determine the most appropriate course of treatment.

While conservative rehabilitation can be effective for some individuals, surgical intervention is often recommended for those seeking long-term knee stability and a return to high-demand physical activities. Both options have their own benefits, risks, and recovery timelines, so it is essential to weigh them carefully in consultation with your healthcare provider.

We are here to help you give the guidance you need – any questions or hesitations, give our team a message any so we can get you towards recovery!