Can an ACL tear heal without surgery?

An ACL tear is a common but severe knee injury that occurs when you abruptly stop or change direction while running. In some cases, jumping and landing may also tear the ACL ( anterior cruciate ligament) — the ligament that stabilizes the knee. Whatever the cause may be, the injury is most likely to put an end to your sports life, or daily living activities for that matter, until you heal from it. An MRI scan is used to confirm its diagnosis, and the next step is the treatment, which is often the surgery.

Many people tend to delay or avoid surgery to heal a torn ACL, giving other treatments, such as using knee ice wraps, heat wrap, and physical therapy, a try. But can an ACL tear heal without surgery? The short answer: it depends on the severity of the tear plus your activity level.

What if it’s a minor tear?

Generally, minor ACL tears may heal with non-surgical treatments and regenerative therapy. These treatments include using a knee ice wrap for compression therapy, and alternatively, a heat wrap to promote healing. Plus, if your activity doesn’t involve putting pressure or making pivoting movements on the knee, physical therapy is all you need to get back to your daily life. Your therapist may advise a few special exercises to strengthen the musculature around the knee to compensate for the tear. However, with a full ACL tear, things are different.

What if it’s a full tear?

A full ACL tear is unlikely to heal without surgery. If your MRI shows a complete tear of the ligament, you will have to undergo surgery sooner or later. If you are involved in sports or other physical activities, it’s recommended that you get it repaired as soon as possible to prevent further damage to the cartilage and meniscus present inside the knee. Delaying your surgery may even increase the risk of osteoarthritis in the later stages.

An athlete who returns to sports, such as baseball, basketball, tennis, etc., after only undergoing physical rehabilitation despite having confirmed ACL tear, regardless of the severity, is also likely to experience serious injury to the meniscus. This is why it’s suggested to heal the torn ligament and get it confirmed by a medical doctor before partaking in sports or other pivoting movements.

If you are looking for ice knee wrap to reduce swelling and pain caused by ACL repair surgery or minor ACL repair, get in touch with us today or check out our store.