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Do ACL Tears Fully Heal?

do acl injuries fully heal

The healing of ACL tears can vary from person to person and depends on several factors, including the severity of the tear, the individual’s age, overall health, and the treatment received. In general, complete healing of an ACL tear without medical intervention is unlikely due to the ACL’s limited blood supply and healing capacity.

The ACL is a crucial ligament in the knee that provides stability and helps prevent excessive forward movement of the tibia (shin bone) relative to the femur (thigh bone). When the ACL is torn, the torn ends of the ligament do not have the ability to reconnect and heal on their own effectively.

Treatment options for ACL tears typically include…

  • Conservative Management – In some cases, individuals with partial ACL tears or low-demand lifestyles may opt for conservative management, which involves physical therapy to strengthen the muscles around the knee and stabilize the joint. However, this approach may not fully restore the ACL’s stability, and there is an increased risk of further knee injuries.
  • ACL Reconstruction Surgery – For most active individuals, athletes, or people with complete ACL tears, surgical reconstruction is often recommended. During ACL reconstruction surgery, the torn ACL is replaced with a graft, usually taken from the patient’s own tissue (autograft) or a donor (allograft). The graft serves as a scaffold for new tissue growth, promoting the formation of a new ligament.

After ACL reconstruction surgery, a rehabilitation program is crucial to facilitate proper healing, restore knee function, and regain strength and stability. The full recovery timeline can vary, but it typically takes several months before individuals can return to their regular activities, including sports.

While ACL reconstruction surgery and rehabilitation can help individuals return to their desired activity level, it’s essential to note that the new ACL, while strong and stable, may not be exactly like the original ACL. However, with proper care, many people can resume their regular activities and sports with good outcomes after an ACL tear and reconstruction.