The knee is the body’s largest joint. With a complex structure, the knee is responsible for most of the body’s movement. By connecting the bones of the upper and lower leg, the knee helps individuals support their weight and perform virtually any form of movement, such as running, cycling, or swimming.
In terms of injuries, anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) tears, are among the most debilitating. Unfortunately, they are also one of the most common. About 100,000 to 200,000 people suffer a torn ACL each year in the United States.
The ACL is the ligament that runs diagonally in the middle of the knee. Surgical reconstruction is almost always recommended to repair a torn ACL. The procedure involves removing the damaged ligament and replacing it with tendon tissue from elsewhere in the body, called a graft. Grafts are usually harvested from a patient’s or donor’s kneecap or hamstring tendon.
Published in June 2023, a study in the British Journal of Sports Medicine supports the stance that nonsurgical treatment can be just as effective as surgery. Here, Reflex Knee Specialists, a team of dedicated knee specialists in Portland, OR, Bellevue, WA, and Tempe, AZ, who provide the most cutting-edge, evidence-based, nonsurgical treatments for knee injuries, explores this study further and details what it means for patients.
The Results of the Study
The study, first accepted on May 30, 2023, sought to investigate the effectiveness of ACL healing by nonsurgical means. After the study concluded, results showed that 90% of ACL tears in 80 participants displayed signs of healing after following a specific knee bracing protocol.
The study’s participants were mostly competitive or recreational athletes. After the study concluded, most reported good knee stability and function and were able to return to their sport a year later. That timeline is comparable to patients who choose the surgical route.
During the first month of the study, participants wore a brace locked at a 90-degree angle. Keeping the knee fixed in this position was crucial, as it kept the torn ends of the ACL closest together, increasing the likelihood that they would fuse. The next phase of the study involved physical therapy. Participants routinely engaged in strength-building and mobility exercises while slowly adjusting their braces to increase their range of motion. At the three-month mark, participants ditched their braces completely.
The study concluded with magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scans with follow-up scans at six months. The results revealed that 90% of the ACL tears had repaired themselves.
Reflex Knee Specialists’ Nonsurgical Approach
At Reflex Knee Specialists, we understand how complex the knee is and how much injuries can affect quality of life. However, complexity doesn’t necessitate the need for surgical approaches. We aim our approach at helping patients avoid invasive and, in some cases, unnecessary surgical procedures. This groundbreaking study shows that ACL tears may not require surgery. Although more research is needed to validate these findings, this initial evidence that ACL tears may be treated without surgery is noteworthy.
At Reflex Knee Specialists, we begin with an accurate diagnosis and a carefully created treatment plan based on the patient’s needs. Our team handles all aspects of a patient’s personalized treatment plan. We stand by our patients every step of the way and take great pride in helping them recover and getting them back in the game.
After a thorough examination and diagnosis, our specialists can offer a wide range of nonsurgical treatment options for knee injuries. Treatment options will depend on a variety of factors, including the patient’s age, lifestyle, and type of injury. Healthcare providers may recommend the following treatments for knee pain:
- Physical therapy
- Platelet-rich plasma (PRP) therapy
- Joint fluid therapy
- Ozone joint therapy
Discover More About the Effectiveness of Nonsurgical Knee Treatment
People experiencing symptoms associated with an ACL tear or other type of knee injury can find effective, nonsurgical treatments at Reflex Knee Specialists. Don’t settle for knee surgery until you’ve received an opinion from our trusted team, which believes that non-surgical treatments for knee injuries should be explored before committing to an invasive surgery.
Serving patients in Portland, OR, Bellevue, WA, and Tempe, AZ, our mission is to alleviate your knee pain and promote knee health in a way that serves you best. To learn more about the effectiveness of our nonsurgical treatment options, contact us today at Reflex Knee Specialists.