Patients who suffer a torn ACL require treatment to prevent further damage to the knee and reduce the risk of subsequent knee injuries. Generally, treatment options for an ACL tear are divided into surgical and non-surgical forms of treatment.
- Non-surgical treatment, which is the first stage of treatment for an ACL tear, uses the RICE technique combined with medication, as described below:
- R = rest
- I = ice
- C = compression
- E = elevation
Patients should use this method in order to train the joints and muscles around the knee so that it can move as before, and should exercise using range-of-motion techniques to strengthen the knee as quickly as possible, with the aim of returning the knee to its normal functioning. When the patient's symptoms have improved and the injured knee has increased in strength, the doctor will examine the knee again to assess whether the patient can perform certain physical activities, and at what level of intensity. If the patient is still unable to use his or her knee as before, then the patient must reduce his or her level of physical activity. If the knee does not recover naturally using this method, then the patient may need to undergo reconstructive surgery.
- Reconstructive surgery is commonly used for the treatment of ACL tears. This type of surgery aims to prevent the shinbone from moving too far forward and return the knee to its normal functioning, thus preventing further damage to surrounding cartilage. During reconstructive ACL surgery, the doctor will remove what remains of the torn ligament and install a replacement.